16 February 2007
Chaos at Perth airport
Here are some photos which I took at Perth airport on Monday during a baggage handlers' stoppage, or strike, as this ABC News item described it.
The photos show both a significant quantity of unattended baggage left lying around (there was even more elsewhere in the terminal) and the stoic resignation of many affected passengers, who from my observations, included several elderly people and at least one unaccompanied child.
The ABC report's comment: 'Qantas says it is disappointed with what it calls the "total disregard staff have shown to customers."' overlooks the inept handling of the customer/passenger aspects of the situation by Qantas management. The airline essentially washed its hands of responsibility for transit passengers like me, leaving us, once most flights east had been cancelled, to make our own arrangements for overnight accommodation. It should have been relatively easy for staff to conduct internet searches on behalf of the stranded passengers.
Several people purporting to be Qantas staff had no ID, while there were two queues at different points of the domestic terminal, one for rebooking cancelled flights, the other for baggage and other matters.
When I and several other Adeaide bound passengers had found accommodation the check in counter staff could not locate our checked baggage. They undertook to deliver it to where we were staying overnight but did not do so.
We were not offered an emergency pack (which includes a t shirt and unisex underpants) until the next day, when we returned to the airport to resume our journey.
Whatever the causes of the baggage handlers' action, passengers were treated abominably by the airline, mainly because there was no leadership or effective communication from Qantas management on the spot.
I hope that Qantas conducts a review into this schemozzle. I've contacted them and will wait to see how long it takes them to respond.