Passengers flying into Wellington on Sunday were left empty-handed at the luggage carousel after their bags were left behind in Australia.
About half of the people on board the delayed Qantas flight QF161 from Sydney arrived to find their bags were still across the ditch. Those affected included some of the England cricket team.
Passenger Dr Philip Nitschke photographed the long queues at the Wellington lost luggage desk. He estimated that “well over 100” people were affected, leaving them facing the Wellington weather with little more than the shorts they were wearing.
It followed a raft of cancellations and delays at Wellington after a heavy blanket of fog descended on the capital’s airport on Saturday afternoon and into Sunday.
A Qantas spokeswoman said because of the poor weather in Wellington, the captain had decided to load more fuel shortly before takeoff. As a result of the extra weight, some passengers’ bags were left behind in Sydney.
The spokeswoman was unable to say exactly how many people were affected, but it is understood around half the passengers’ luggage did not make the flight. A Qantas Boeing 737, which was used for the journey, carries 168 passengers.
“We understand this is frustrating, but our main priority was getting everyone to Wellington safely and on time,” the spokeswoman said.
“The leftover bags were loaded onto the next flight on Sunday evening and the remaining bags will arrive in Wellington on our first flight on Monday morning.”
When there is poor weather, aircraft often need to carry additional fuel in case they need to stay in holding patterns or divert to different destinations.
Nitschke said affected passengers weren’t told their luggage had been left in Sydney until they had touched down in Wellington.
“We arrived into Wellington, and we all waited and waited and waited, and then they announced that some passengers’ luggage had been left in Sydney,” he said.
“Well, they said ‘some passengers’, but it was almost the entire passenger list.”
He believed the cricketers’ luggage may have taken preference over ordinary passengers’ bags, after a passing comment at the carousel.
“The British cricket team’s physiotherapist was on the flight and had been forthcoming about the fact that the players’ very heavy and very substantial baggage had been on board,” he said.
“At no time did Qantas disclose the reason for the weight restriction.”
However, the Qantas spokeswoman denied the cricketers were given preferential treatment, and said some of their bags were among those offloaded in Australia.
Nitschke, who is part of euthanasia campaign group Exit International and is due to attend a court case in New Zealand on Monday, said large queues of frustrated passengers formed at the lost luggage desk.
“We were lucky as we were one of the first in the queue, but even when we left, the queue was just immense,” he said.
Passengers had been understanding about earlier delays due to the weather, but were frustrated by the luggage mess-up, he said.
He has been told that his luggage will be delivered to him when it arrives in New Zealand, but he wants Qantas to make a public apology to the passengers “they have treated so badly”.
The England team – who were not on board flight QF161 – are due to play the Black Caps in a Twenty20 match at Westpac Stadium on Tuesday.
New Zealand cricketers also arrived in Wellington on Sunday after numerous flight cancellations because of fog, which also saw their scheduled practice session cancelled.
This article was originally published by Stuff.co.nz. Read the original here.
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