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’On hold for five hours’: Travellers caught up in flight nightmare

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A further 14 inbound and outbound Hobart flights were cancelled on Thursday, marking 28 cancellations in just two days.It threw a wrench into the plans of Hobart holidaymaker Julie Smith, who spent hours on the phone trying to get an alternative flight when her original booking was cancelled.She was put on hold until 11pm, at which point she gave up and tried again the next morning.“We were on the phone waiting for five hours, listening to how wonderful Qantas are and how important they are,” Mrs Smith said.“It was non-stop ads for three hours and then they switched to some lulling music, by which time we were ready to throw something out the window.”She eventually got through to an operator and was put on a direct flight to Brisbane on Thursday.Sydney doctor Indika Weera was worried that he might have to cancel his family holiday plans at the last minute due to Covid test delays.His PCR Covid test was taking longer than 72 hours to arrive, but it finally came through at 2am on Thursday mere hours before his flight.“We were a little bit worried whether we can go or not, but luckily we got the PCR in time and here we are,” Dr Weera said.“We are really going to enjoy our time here.”His family member, Sam Manadeniya, said he thought all these different Covid rules and border restrictions were baffling.He said it was particularly infuriating that they were required to take a PCR test less than 72 hours before a flight, when the test can take longer than 72 hours to process.“The government, state and federal, put all these silly 72-hour rules during the holiday, and you want to recover the economy?” Mr Manadeniya said.“It is very difficult but clearly we can see the politicians and the leaders are not working together.” Fourteen Hobart flights cancelled in one day – December 29Fourteen flights were cancelled at short notice at Hobart Airport on Wednesday.It comes as another 13 Hobart flights were added as exposure sites on Tuesday, with all passengers now classified as low risk Covid contacts.It also coincides with Tasmania hitting the 300 mark for confirmed Covid cases, with another 55 active cases acquired since yesterday.On Wednesday, one inbound and one outbound flight was cancelled, and there are another six arrival and departure flights cancelled for this evening.No flight cancellations have been announced for Thursday at time of writing, however the situation is evolving rapidly. A Virgin Australia Group spokesperson said they’d contacted effected passengers and moved them onto alternative flights as close to the original departure time as possible.“Virgin Australia is operating hundreds of services today with little to no impact on scheduled departure or arrival times,” the spokesperson said.“We apologise to any guest impacted by changes to our schedule and we are ensuring all guests make it to their final destination.”A Qantas spokesperson said they’d implemented a “Fly Flexible” initiative to ensure no passengers were left out of pocket.“To ensure you can book with confidence, we’ve added further flexibility on flights across our network,” the spokesperson said. “If you decide to change the date of your travel we’ll waive the change fee. You’ll need to change your flight before your scheduled date of departure and select a new travel date within 12 months of your original booking date.”kenji.sato@news.com.au



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