Thursday 28 April 2011

Flying not so high

My view for around 3 hours.
Wow, I'm back! What a week it's been. There have been highs (which I'm going to write about tomorrow) and there have been lows (which you'll here about right now).

Last Tuesday was a busy day. I had a house to get ready for the first open inspection – tidying, last minute painting, high pressure hose cleaning, carpet cleaning. I ran around all day frantically. Finally at 3pm, I threw some stuff in our suitcases grabbed the kids and went to pick up Skip. As I drove out of my street all the things I forgot to do and pack filled my head. I realised I hadn't eaten since 7am.

I picked up Skip, who assured me to let it all. 'We're on holidays! Let's just forget about it all.' So, I started to finally relax.

At the airport, there was a rather large crowd, but we didn't think about it too much. As we queued at the check in, we realised that the queue for the security gate was very long. It was in fact closed. We were told that there had been a security breach and the terminal had been cleared, so everyone would have to wait.

Oh well, if our flight was a little late that didn't matter. We'd grab some dinner and relax. We were on holidays!

Minutes turned into hours. The terminal filled and filled and filled. We were so crammed in I started to get a little panicky. Firstly, what if the kids need to go to the loo? There was no way to get there. What if the massive crowd of people suddenly surged forward? The kids would be crushed. We'd already seen people get crushed in a crowd on an escalator where they had no where to go. The whole thing was a debacle, no-one seemed to be in charge or know what the hell was going on. It was awful, awful, awful.

The girls were amazingly good, seeing as it was dinner and bed time and we were stuck in a queue with no food. I was very proud of them.

At last, the queue started moving, albeit slowly. The people around us were lovely and patient, until a family of about five older kids and four adults pushed their way through. The mum looked at us and shrugged: "I can't be bothered waiting anymore with my kids." I couldn't believe it.

We finally got through. Even my uber-pessimistic husband remained remarkably and unusually cheery, refusing this hiccup to dampen our precious holiday. We ran to the gate. Our flight wasn't listed anywhere. A member of the airport ground staff gruffly said: "No flight tonight. You might get on one tomorrow. Probably not."
I turned to look at the kids and Lil-lil said: "I can't wait to get up in the air." Which nearly broke my heart. I then had to tell her there would be no flight tonight. She was understandably confused. Why did we have to wait so long? I wish I knew.

That was it. No explanation. No official word from the airline. Nothing. We were told to go to a certain desk at the front of the terminal, where we'd just queued for 3 hours, to find out what was going on. That desk was flocked with people. We decided that we'd been at the airport for 4 hours, there was no way we were getting out tonight, we may as well go home and call. At least then we could be fed and comfortable and the kids could go to bed. It was 9pm by now.

We called and were told that there was no flight available until Friday afternoon and 'sorry for the inconvinience'. Now I don't lose it often, but this was where I lost it. Inconvenience?! The 5-star hotel we'd booked for our first night was sitting empty. Our hire car in the car park of the airport. Having to tell the kids there would be no Dreamworld. Being told that half of our precious holiday was gone. The only time Skip could get off before the new bub arrives. The last chance of some quality family time in an incredibly  busy year with new jobs, new homes, new babies. Inconvenience wasn't really the word that sprang to my mind. Heartbreaking. Absurd. Ridiculous. Infuriating. These words came closer.

The kids in bed, we decided we were going on our holiday, one way or another. Even if we had to hop in the car and drive.

After scouring the internet and deciding that parting with more than a few dollars (which I think we should be reimbursed) was better than missing out on this precious time, we found a flight leaving Newcastle at 6.00am the following morning. It was now 10pm. We booked the flights, jumped into bed for a couple of hours and at 2.30am we were in the car heading north. The kids were confused but slept the two hour drive. There was no way that we weren't going on this holiday. As we were lined up at the check-in, the other flight leaving that morning was told it was cancelled and they had to board a bus to Sydney to get another flight. We breathed a HUGE sigh of relief that it wasn't our flight.

We boarded the plane and we made it. Our hire car was still there (thank God as there were none other available). We arrived at Dreamworld at the exact same time we planned to.

A week later we were headed home. Just 10 minutes from the airport and the phone rang. Our flight home was cancelled. ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH. I could not believe it. Skip had to be back at work for an important meeting the next morning. They told us they could put us on a flight the next morning, but we'd have the leave from Sunshine Coast Airport, instead of Brisbane Airport.  We were headed north yet again. At dinner time. Trying to find somewhere to stay the night.

I called the car rental company to tell them that we would keep the car an extra night and would drop it off at a different location. They said that was fine. We finally got to the new destination and got dinner and got settled in. The phone rang again. The car had to be taken back to Brisbane Airport or we'd be charged $5000. Skip jumped back into the car drove 100km to the airport, swapped cars and drove 100km back.

Debacle. Complete debacle.

We finally got back to Sydney and had to wait 40 minutes at the carousel for our luggage. Skip made his meeting 20 minutes late.

I can safely say that I will never, ever, ever fly that airline again. For such a short trip and such a routine flight, it was the most ridiculous chain of events. I'm just glad that the holiday itself was perfect. Tune into tomorrow for all the good stuff.

Edited to add: I wrote this post as a stream of consciouness late last night in a tired state. Just poured out my memories of the chain of events. At the time I wasn't going to name the airline, but after thinking about it during the night and after a few comments, I've decided to name names. Purely because the customer service we received was abysmal. Not once was there any care or concern shown, and in some circumstances we weren't able to talk to anyone from the company at all. I fear this wasn't a one-off glitch but a regular occurrence for this airline. Also, the other airlines that were affected by the security breach worked together to get their passengers to their destination asap, not so our airline. I wouldn't like to taint those airlines' reputations but not naming. So, the airline we were bitten by was Tiger Airways.


  1. Holy Moly! I got stressed just reading your post!

    What a terrible way to start and end your holiday. I hope everything was perfect in between.

    And at least you got good weather too ;)


  2. O.M.G! I can barely believe what I'm reading, except I do and I feel SO SORRY for you having to go through that. I think I may have been arrested for doing something silly if they pulled that type of stunt on us.
    If it was Jetstar you flew with, I heard about their security breach putting hundreds of customers out last week. Apparently 4 people walked through the security gates, completely unaware that the scanners had been turned off momentarily. So they couldn't let any of the flights go, as they didn't have a record of who had scanned in and who hadn't. A likely story!
    You should totally be reimbursed. Even if you popped this post into a letter and sent it to the airline, I think they would realise what useless fools they had been.
    Look forward to reading the good stuff :o)

  3. You poor thing! After all you had been through to get to that point to then get words.

    Can't wait to hear the good side and thanks for the heads up on the airline. They don't deserve any more customers!

    Hope the open houses have been going well and that YOU start to get some rest x

  4. Glad you named the airline. That's woeful! I now know not to ever fly with them. Hope you got the chance to relax.

  5. I was contemplating buying tickets to Adelaide through Tiger, but after reading this I'll suck up paying extra and stick with the others. That is truly appalling service. There should be some sort of recompense, rather than just expecting people to tolerate incompetence and poor organization.

  6. Oh lovely I was so sorry to read this! What a nightmare, and just when you needed smooth sailing!!! Im so glad that the trip itself was restorative and im looking forward to giving you all a big hello hug soon...! welcome back and enjoy watching the wedding tonight!! xx

  7. How awful for you, I have never heard a positive word said about Tiger! I am so glad you decided to hell with it, we are having a holiday anyway.

  8. How freakin disastrous!!!! I'd have well and truly lost it as well, especially as you say it was a long overdue and only chance holiday.

    And I'm so glad you named and shamed the airline - they deserved it and much more! I only hope they find this blog and do a bit of overdue grovelling to make up for the shit-fight they created in what was meant to be a perfect family getaway.


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