More than two dozen Australian travellers were left stranded overnight in a Tokyo airport with no food or water after their Jetstar flight was cancelled.
Gordon Knight was one of the passengers abandoned at Japan’s Narita International Airport on Sunday night when the JQ12 flight to the Gold Coast was delayed for 24 hours
Gordon Knight was one of the passengers abandoned at Japan’s Narita International Airport in Tokyo on Sunday night when the JQ12 flight to the Gold Coast was delayed for 24 hours.
‘About 25 Australians are trapped in Narita Airport due to cancelled Jetstar flight JQ0012,’ he tweeted with a picture of passengers standing around the airport.
‘Due to Covid restrictions we’re not allowed to leave the airport or enter hotels. We have no food, water or bedding. We’d appreciate assistance.’
In total, Mr Knight and his partner, who just underwent leg surgery, spent more than 32 hours waiting around in the airport.
Japan’s strict Covid rules mean only travellers with a negative test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival and those with an approved visa are allowed into the country.
Independent travellers are not allowed into the country and only tourists who are a part of organised guided tours can enter.
Mr Knight said he and fellow passengers were forced to sleep on the floor or chairs they had put together in a closed off section of the airport.
Dozens of passengers were left stranded at the airport on Sunday night. Shops in the airport had closed meaning they had no food or water
‘Someone slept on a table, someone slept on the floor,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We created a bed out of two armchairs for my partner which wasn’t ideal given her recent surgery – it was probably the worst thing she could do being spanned across two chairs to sleep.’
As it was late at night all the stores had closed meaning there was nothing to eat or drink.
He said there was a bathroom but the taps weren’t easy to drink out of and they had no cups, and a nearby vending machine only took Japanese coins.
‘We were left to fend for ourselves. I got no sleep, the combination of frustration and looking after our bags meant I stayed awake the whole night,’ he said.
Many were forced to sleep on the floor or put chairs and tables together
Mr Knight said there was a young woman travelling alone who was too nervous to go to sleep, and there were also children who were forced to sleep in the airport.
He said a security guard came to check on the group twice throughout the night but otherwise they were left alone.
The traveller also disputed claims from Jetstar that the passengers were offered meal and accommodation vouchers.
‘They sent us an email saying they would reimburse us for food if we kept our receipts but it was the equivalent to about $35,’ Mr Knight said.
Three Japanese flight attendants were left to figure out what to do with the group of abandoned passengers, he added.
Mr Knight said he and his partner were stuck in the airport for more than 30 hours in total
Mr Knight, who speaks some Japanese, said he could hear their panicked conversations about whether or not they should bring the group some Starbucks.
He said ground staff had said they would try source some pillows and blankets but there weren’t any available.
They tried to get food off the plane but by that stage access to the aircraft had been blocked.
‘Jetstar were meant to bring us breakfast in the morning but they never showed up,’ Mr Knight said.
‘We had to wait for the cafes to open at 8am and then I started the day with two cans of beer.’
In another cruel twist, Mr Knight learnt that Terminal 1 had beds and showers, but they were stuck in Terminal 3.
‘There was just a lack of foresight by management,’ he said, referencing the recent flight delays and cancellations in the airline.
‘They must have known a Jetstar flight would eventually not be leaving on time. They should have had a stash of water bottles, pillows and blankets and no one in upper management thought to do that – they didn’t even turn up.’
Mr Knight and his fellow travellers were eventually able to board a flight back to Australia on Monday night, landing on Tuesday morning.
He and his partner then got a direct flight from the Gold Coast to Melbourne but still had a three-hour car ride to Gippsland.
He has since opened up a complaint process about his experience with the airline.
Jetstar apologised for the delay which they said was due to an engineering issue with the plane
‘I really want to help them and tell them what happened and how they can improve,’ he said.
A Jetstar spokesperson said the 24-hour delay was due to the late arrival of the aircraft because of an ‘engineering issue’ found prior to it leaving Australia.
‘We sincerely apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused,’ the spokesperson said.
‘All customers were offered accommodation and meal vouchers and for customers who no longer wished to fly, the option of a full refund was also available.
‘Unfortunately, some customers who were transiting through Japan from other countries, were not able to leave the airport due to Japan’s COVID requirements to enter the country, including providing a negative PCR test.
‘We are working with Narita Airport to determine how we can better accommodate transiting passengers during disruptions like this one.’
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