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Travellers were stranded halfway around the world when Australian airline Qantas cancelled multiple flights to the US

David Slotnick , Business Insider US
 Aug 06, 2019, 11:11 AM
  • Hundreds of passengers were stranded in Australia and the US after Australian airline Qantas cancelled four consecutive flights between Los Angeles and Melbourne.
  • The airline cited several separate mechanical problems as the cause.
  • Among the stranded passengers were more than 170 boy and girl scouts heading home from the World Scout Jamboree.
  • Qantas uses 484-seat Airbus A380 aircraft to operate the flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles. The use of the high capacity planes on the route - and the potential number of stranded travelers - complicated efforts to rebook and reroute passengers.
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Hundreds of Australians and Americans were left stranded in the wrong countries after Australian airline Qantas cancelled multiple flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles due to myriad mechanical issues.

Between Saturday, August 3, and Monday, August 5, Los Angeles time, at least four flights between the two cities - two from Melbourne to Los Angeles, and two going the other way - had been cancelled.

The flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne - QF94 - was cancelled on Saturday and Sunday evening, according to data from FlightStats. The flight is normally scheduled to depart at 10:40 p.m. PT. The previous night's flight arrived nearly 14 hours late.

The Melbourne to Los Angeles flight - QF93 - was cancelled on Monday, August 5, and Tuesday, August 6, according to FlightRadar24. The latter flight was scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning, due to the international date line.

The flights are typically flown on an Airbus A380, which has the largest capacity of any passenger airplane. Qantas can seat up to 484 passengers in its configuration on the plane.

Katie Quirk was among the hundreds of Australian passengers stuck in Los Angeles, along with her husband Tom and their 18-month-old daughter Madeline. They was rebooked onto Sunday night's flight after their Saturday flight was cancelled - and then left in the dark after the second flight was called off. They were eventually booked onto a flight departing Monday night and transiting through Sydney, which they were told by Facebook message from the airline.

"We found out the Sunday night flight was cancelled at 2 a.m. after a three-and-a-half hour delay," Quirk told Business Insider. "It took another hour or so for our bags to be taken off the plane. We didn't get back to the hotel until after 4 a.m."

Throughout the delay, Madeline managed to sleep on the terminal floor, despite construction noise and bright lights, Quirk said.

While the delays were an obvious inconvenience, Quirk said that she and other passengers were frustrated by a lack of communication from the airline - both during the delays, and surrounding the process to be rebooked on different flights.

"People understand safety comes first, and obviously we don't want to get on a plane that is experiencing mechanical issues," she said, "but I think it is also important in that situation for people to feel like they are being listened to and understood and that there is genuine sympathy and empathy offered regarding the circumstances."

Also among the stranded passengers were more than 170 boy scouts traveling from the World Scout Jamboree in Charlotte, North Carolina, according to the Herald Sun.

"Qantas haven't told us anything," Peter Lyon, whose 15-year-old son was stranded in Los Angeles, told the Herald Sun. "I'm pretty grumpy, I'm not the only one."

Qantas told Business Insider that it was working to reaccomodate passengers on later flights, including other Qantas flights with connections.

"Passengers were transferred onto tonight's QF 94 while others will be flown out tomorrow night." a spokesperson said. "Passengers have been put on other Qantas flights, but we expect to have everyone on their way on tonight's flight and tomorrow's."

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