Travellers heading off on holidays or back to work with Virgin Australia are being urged to arrive earlier to avoid delays caused by extraordinarily long queues at the carrier’s Sydney Airport domestic terminal.
Passengers arrived at the terminal on Tuesday morning to find the queue was snaking out of the terminal, with the carrier calling out flights requiring urgent check-in.
“It was crazy,” Josh Dye, a Fairfax journalist heading to Perth, said. “I’ve never seen it that bad.”
If anything, the call out for immediate check-in only added to the chaotic scenes, he added.
The passenger crush appeared only to affect Virgin Australia, with travellers on Tiger and Jetstar – which share the terminal – progressing as normal, he said.
Others took to social media to vent their frustration:
— Aurélie Pankowiak (@AureliePanko) January 2, 2017
A spokesman for Virgin Australia said there had been “no disrupt”, such as a fault or other systems failure.
‘One of the busiest days of the year’
“Today is one of the busiest days of the year for travellers returning from holidays which has resulted in delays at our check-in counters at Sydney Airport this morning,” the spokesman said.
“Each of our check-in counters are fully staffed and we are working hard to have guests on their way as quickly as possible,” he said. “During peak travel periods we encourage guests to check-in online, arrive at the airport early, and listen out for announcements made in the terminal.”
Mr Dye said an airport employee had described the chaos as “just congestion”, pointing to the arrival of cruise ships in Sydney for the rush of passengers to check in for flights.
Cruise ships dock early in the morning, he said, with the bulk of passengers heading straight to the airport.
In some cases, cruise passengers arrived at the airport at 8 or 9am for a 1pm or even a 5pm domestic flight, he said, which caused the lengthy queues.
“I’ve never seen queues like this anywhere in the world,” one passenger said. “Everyone seemed confused about why it was taking so long.”
Other passengers took to Facebook to recount other recent frustrations at Sydney Airport.
“This was the same issue I had flying out of Sydney on [Christmas] Eve as well and also flying out of Sydney in the first week of December,” Vy Pham said. “In both cases the bag drop line was exceptionally longer than the check in line.”
“I was there yesterday and that’s the worst I’ve ever experienced at Sydney,” Niall Connolly, another traveller posted.
“There were indeed people lined up for much later flights – which added to the congestion – but people want to get through and relax before their flights,” he said.
“I thought it was managed as well as could be expected and I got ‘called through’, although the plane to Darwin had a malfunctioning crew jump seat and the plane was ‘grounded'”, Mr Connolly said. “The replacement left 3 1/2 hours late.”
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