An Easter meltdown at the airport during the busiest season of the last two years in travel in Sydney, Australia
While I have spent many years flying with the Australian flag carrier, to say they have dropped the ball after the COVID Pandemic, is an understatement.
Sydney airport is a disgrace to any advanced, modern airport experience and overall, had it not been for my dexterity, determination and sheer desire to get back to the city of Perth, many could have fallen by the wayside in a detrius of lost luggage, mountains of unused coffee vouchers, disappointment and a distinct sense the airline staff have given up.
Let’s get into the details … I had been seeing news reports for the previous four days about how Sydney airport did not have enough security staff, the airlines not enough baggage handlers (admittedly an airport issue) and overall, generally what appears to be a state of mass unpreparedness.
I am well aware that when there is a pandemic and no one is flying, airlines, the airport and just about everyone else, was doing their best to stem the losses from little or reduced trade and staff were often amongst the first crop of expenses to be cut. We could certainly debate the topic ad nauseum, but then, as with most cyclical things, there is a turn and events return to normal.
In the case of Australia, it was well known around January that come March and April, things were going to be starting up again.
It is my view that the attitude of ‘just in time’ supply has hit the airline and airport world as well, and it is a concept that has failed them substantially.
In my case, I knew there was going to be a massive onslaught of people the day before Good Friday, so I made a point of arriving at the airport by 03:30 am on Thursday morning, and was ready to stand up amongst the best of them. I used the Airport’s Blue Emu Car Park for this trip.
The first step was to go up from the ground level, being arrivals, and head to the next level being Departures. I knew already from over hearing the security guards on the bus from the carpark to the terminal that the crowds were beginning to gather and that all the doors to the public were closed until four am.
On arrival at the terminal, I waited for the doors to open at four and made a beeline to the security line, as I had already checked in online at home and was ready with only cabin bags as so many people had already had issues with delays and plans up in the air with lost bags etc. It was found that in some cases, bags were not loaded on some flights at all, or flights were delayed while baggage persons were able to be allocated to loading and unloading bags for the flights.
In our case, even though I am jumping ahead, we waited for over an hour and a half before we could depart as the bags had not been loaded after one hour had passed after boarding was complete and thus, we were affected by the lack of baggage handlers as well.
To the pilot’s credit, he came on the PA system and mentioned that he had been doing much apologizing of late for the company (QF) and hoped we would be understanding of the situation.