Hundreds of Qantas passengers are still waiting in the Thai capital, Bangkok, after being stranded when the airline was grounded on Saturday.
The main Suvarnabhumi airport is unaffected by a flood threat that the government says is now easing.
Passengers who were en route from London to Sydney went no further after they landed in Bangkok for what was supposed to be a short transit stop.
They were moved to a city hotel and a company official in Thailand says they were awaiting onward flights with other airlines.
All passengers who were due to fly to London on Saturday night on Qantas were apparently found seats with alternative carriers.
Bangkok remains subject to a travel warning by the Australian Government due to flooding that has been closing in on the city.
Tens of thousands of stranded Qantas Airways passengers worldwide scrambled to get to their destinations Sunday after the airline abruptly grounded its global fleet over a dispute with striking workers. Australia’s government sought a court order to force the flagship carrier’s planes back in the air.
Australian officials expressed frustration over the sudden action by the world’s 10th-largest airline and asked an emergency arbitration hearing to order Qantas to fly in Australia’s economic interests.
STRANDED in flood-ravaged Bangkok without his medication, luggage or even a toothbrush, disabled Holocaust survivor Peter Thier says his treatment by Qantas has been appalling.
”We will never fly Qantas again – this is ridiculous,” said Mr Thier, 74, from Marsfield in Sydney’s northern suburbs.
Mr Thier is one of thousands of Qantas passengers stranded at the airline’s key south-east Asian hubs Singapore and Bangkok, many of whom are furious at their treatment.
Mr Thier and his friend and carer Peter Dobson, 64, after they had driven four hours to Bangkok’s main airport on Saturday from the Thai beach resort of Hua Hin, where they had been holidaying.
They arrived hours early for a Qantas flight to Sydney departing that evening, not wanting any hassles at the airport.
But when the men checked in, they felt Qantas staff were not being frank with them. ”We felt something was wrong … that they knew something we didn’t,” said Mr Thier who was born in Vienna before World War II and arrived in Australia as a refugee aged 16.
The men were unaware that two hours earlier in Sydney, Qantas had announced it was stopping all domestic and international flights until further notice.
An airport attendant pushed Mr Thier through Thai immigration in a wheelchair as he has a lower leg nerve ailment that makes it difficult for him to walk.
Mr Thier said the next shocking news was that Qantas had inexplicably put their luggage on Emirates and Thai flights to Sydney, leaving them with the clothes they were standing in. ”Why would they do that? We were not on those flights,” Mr Thier said.
Mr Moser confirmed the luggage went to Sydney unaccompanied, violating airline safety regulations.
”There was a misunderstanding at the airport,” he said.
Mr Thier yesterday said he and Mr Dobson had been booked on a British Airways overnight flight to Sydney, arriving this morning.
”Alan Joyce has done this a day after getting a big pay rise … it doesn’t make sense,” Mr Thier said.
Claudia Braun, another passenger stranded in Bangkok, was so afraid of being caught up in the city’s floods she telephoned Qantas hours before flight QF2 left London for the Thai capital, a scheduled stopover on the way to Sydney.
”I was told there was nothing to worry about,” says Ms Braun, a veterinary surgeon from Zurich.
But almost 18 hours into the flight, just before QF2 was to land in Bangkok on Saturday night, she and 300 other passengers were told the flight was being suspended in the city that is under threat from the worst floods in half a century.
”It’s just so unfair,” Ms Braun said in tears as she wandered busy Bangkok airport almost two hours after the plane had landed.
Sydney rigger Gary Flanagan, 64, says Qantas staff either lied or were misinformed when they told passengers who arrived at Bangkok airport to check in for the flight to Sydney that the cause of suspension was either industrial action or a maintenance problem.
”I heard before I left my hotel in Bangkok that Qantas had suspended all its flights,” he said.
Mr Moser was at the hotel overseeing arrangements for the passengers and handing out a Qantas statement blaming the cancellations on ”damaging industrial action by unions”.
”We sincerely apologise for the impact this industrial action is having on your travel plans,” the statement said.