Australian travelers heading to Bali have been left in a state of shock following a surprise u-turn mid-flight. The Virgin Australia Darwin-Denpsar flight left Darwin International Airport shortly after 3 pm on Friday, 30 December. But in a shocking turn of events, the aircraft had to make a u-turn halfway between Darwin and Timor-Leste.
Virgin Australia has issued a statement regarding the situation. The flight landed back in Darwin at around 5 pm and travelers impacted are being helped to get onto rescheduled flights as soon as possible. A spokesperson for the airline said the aircraft experienced an ‘engineering issue’ which meant that the only safe option for the plane and its passengers was to return to Darwin.
The statement continued to explain, “Virgin Australia has sourced accommodation for all guests in Darwin tonight and is working to reschedule them on to a service to Denpasar tomorrow, 31 December. The safety of our guests and our people is Virgin Australia’s number one priority.”
The unexpected delay is causing issues for passengers, many of who were set to enjoy New Year’s Eve on the Island of the Gods. Speaking to reporters, Bali traveler Taylor Meyer shared how the disruptions is impacting his holiday.
He said, “Now we’ve been told we have to get out baggage, and we’ll be told what’s going on later, so we still don’t have any idea…I was supposed to be in Bali, then supposed to be going to a resort tomorrow morning so I’m not too sure if that’s going to happen anymore”
Meyer voiced his concern that the travel delays and distribution would cause financial losses sharing that ‘it just becomes a financial issue really because you’ve just got to pay for it all again.”
It is not only Virgin Australia who are helping stranded tourists. Darwin Airport has released a statement to confirm that the airport operations staff are on hand to assist travelers where possible. A spokesperson for the airport said, “Our operations team is prepared and ready to manage the arrival of the flight and processing of the aircraft and passengers will be streamlined.”
The news of the U-turned flight comes just days after a Jetstar flight was forced to turn around and head back to Australia mid-flight. Jetstar’s Melbourne-Denpasar flight on the 28th December had to u-turn just an hour out from landing in Bali. In a statement released by the airline, the company admitted the disruption was caused by a ‘miscommunication’.
Jetstar’s statement on the 29th December clarified their version of events “We swapped yesterday’s (28/12) Melbourne to Bali service to a larger Boeing 787 aircraft to carry more customers during the holidays…Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication, the aircraft swap was not approved by the local regulator in Indonesia.”
The spokesperson continued, “As soon as we became aware, the flight returned to Melbourne, and we have rebooked passengers on a flight later today. We know this has been an extremely frustrating experience for customers, and sincerely apologize for what happened… We’ve begun a review to understand how the miscommunication happened so we can prevent it from occurring again”.
Many of the passengers on the JQ35 service described the ordeal as a ‘holiday nightmare’ and have said that they will never travel with ever airline again. 2022 has been a tricky year for Jetstar and Bali travelers. In late August and September, thousands of travelers experienced delayed or canceled flights as a result of operational issues with the airline.
In a statement issued in September, Jetstar said “Unfortunately, our Boeing 787 fleet has been impacted by a number of issues, including a lightning strike, a bird strike, damage from an item on the runway, and delays sourcing a specific spare part for one of our aircraft due to global supply chain challenges. The part has to be road freighted across the US”.
Hundreds of travelers voiced their frustration, even heartbreak, of the impact that the flight cancellations had on their lives and pledged never to use the airline again.
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