Despite a bit of Bali belly, some lost cash, sunburn and a few hangovers, my girls trip to Bali last week was smooth sailing.
But when it came to flying home, it was anything but.
Along with hundreds of other Aussies, my five friends and I had our 12:45pm flight from Denpasar to Melbourne delayed over six hours on Sunday afternoon.
Our complaints fade into insignificance when compared to the week long delays some passengers on Jetstar flights between Bali and Australia are facing at the moment.
During our lengthy wait at the airport on Sunday, I recorded a few horror stories from frustrated passengers.
Notification that our Jetstar flight home from Bali had been delayed two hours.
Luckily, I have a responsible friend who checked the Jetstar app and saw another two hour delay. No notification came through.
Time to rebook our taxis to the airport; another delay. But still no notification.
Arrive at the airport.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused,” reads our $10 refreshment voucher – to spend at select food stores inside the airport.
The wait begins.
Frustrated by another 45 minute delay, my friend shows me an Instagram post from Jacqui Felgate with a message from a Jetstar passenger about their flight being cancelled on September 1.
“Now our flights have been cancelled again flying Tuesday night at 10:35pm however there are flights being cancelled every day,” it reads.
“I have epilepsy my medication is due to run out Tuesday.”
“It’s such a stressful time.”
Speaking to about a dozen people at the airport – many of whom are unusually willing to speak their minds to a journalist pestering them for a comment – say they are beyond fed up.
Meagan Mulder and her family, who had enjoyed a trip with 60 friends and family, say all had gone smoothly until it was time to fly home.
“We had 12 friends who were on the midnight flight last night, they had their flight cancelled, they can’t get another flight anywhere for seven people until Friday this week, so they’ve had to get more accommodation and everything,” she says, as her exhausted kids listened in.
“We got another three friends who were able to get a flight to Brisbane this Tuesday, a stop over in Brisbane and then fly to Melbourne the next day, so they’ll be home Wednesday.”
She explained that another four friends were forced to book flights with another airline, forking out over $10,000 to make a detour to Kuala Lumpur.
“For us, it’s a seven hour delay but we’re getting home.”
Spotted a Jetstar pilot walking through the airport, I ask him about the delays.
A variety of issues are causing the cancellations and delays, including engineering problems with the aircrafts and staff shortages, he reports.
A comment then pops up from a flight crew member on Felgate’s post saying three aircrafts had been taken out of play completely due to engineering issues, and some engineers were on strike.
Chatting to more passengers, some of whom had taken to lying on the floor, it appeared notifications about the multiple delays had not come through via email or text, and they had been waiting at the airport for hours.
Others were questioning why passengers were told about the delay so late when Jetstar knew about the issues with the aircrafts.
Due to board but it’s looking like it’s going to take a little longer than expected.
One frustrated passenger, Pauline, attempts to block her young children’s ears as she spoke her mind about the airline.
She has been trying to fly home from Bali for two days after losing her grandpa on Friday.
“I’m exhausted. I just want to f**king get home,” she says as she queues up to board the flight.
“We need to get home.”
“And to top it all off my grandfather died on Friday,” she says.
“All flights have been sold out, delayed, cancelled, we’ve been trying since Friday to get on the flight.”
Pauline’s brother, who was also due to be flying home, had his flight cancelled.
“My brother has been delayed quite a few times. Flights cancelled, been delayed numerous times,” she says.
“Hopefully (he’ll) get a flight out tomorrow morning. Two day delay for him.”
Kylie, who is travelling with her young kids and husband, also tells me they had only been notified about the first two hour delay and struggled to find further information online.
“The most frustrating thing was that we weren’t told about three of the delays, no information, no updates. Even online, you couldn’t find the information,” she says.
Bumping into Meagan and her family in the queue, including her seven year-old son who has a serious grumpy face as he clutches his neck pillow, she says she’d read the comments on Felgate’s post.
Among the hundreds of comments, many from Jetstar passengers who were stuck in Bali or had family and friends who were stranded, people were asking why passengers didn’t have travel insurance.
“Everyone has travel insurance and yes they (their friends) will be credited eventually but there were no flights at all for them to get on.”
A man sitting next to me on the flight tells me about an 80-year-old man who he had met in the airport.
He was overwhelmed with emotion after not being notified about his flight changes.
He doesn’t want to speak on record but he’s visibly disgraced that an elderly man was given little information or help about the cancellation and delay of his flight.
Chatter can be heard from passengers in surrounding seats about never flying Jetstar to Bali again.
But we aren’t getting off the flight just yet.
Told to remain in our seats while the airline contacts Canberra officials about an on-flight incident, passengers are getting agitated.
Flight attendants are looking very nervous as a bunch of bingtanged-single-wearing Aussies calming down their small children with braided hair shake their heads and play a guessing game as to what has happened.
I ask one couple behind me whether they’d be flying Jetstar to Bali again.
“No chance,” she says.
“We should’ve flown Garuda.”
A flight attendant, who expressed his own frustrations at the delay, tells the woman behind me to fly with a different airline to Bali next time.
He says a child has developed a rash on the flight and Canberra officials needed to be contacted before we get off.
And then finally, at 3am – 10 hours after our original arrival time – we are off the plane.
We were the lucky ones though – we’d managed to get on a flight the same day.
Thousands of Australians have been left stranded in Bali after a week’s worth of Jetstar night flights were cancelled and several more delayed.
Since the start of September flights between Australia and Bali have been cancelled every day due to engineering issues and staff shortages.
Neil Mitchell grabbed the story on Monday morning, reporting on 3AW that anywhere between 1000 to 4000 people are stuck in Bali.
A Jetstar spokesperson confirmed that some flights had been cancelled between Australia and Bali’s capital Denpasar due to “engineering requirements”.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had to cancel some services between Australia and Denpasar due to engineering requirements,” they said.
“We sincerely apologise for the frustration and inconvenience this disruption has caused our customers.
“Our teams are looking at every option to get passengers on their way as soon as possible, including seats on Qantas flights and operating ad hoc services where possible.
“A flight credit or refund will also be made available to passengers who no longer wish to travel.”
Arriving home at 5am this morning, I can’t say I’d be too inclined to jump on a Jetstar flight to Bali again.
Originally published as Thousands stuck in Bali after major delays and cancellations