01 January 2010
A SUNSHINE Coast family who spent seven hours stranded on a plane on the tarmac at Brisbane Airport has likened the experience to being held ransom by terrorists.
Ron Pratt, his wife Marina and their son Jaymin, 11, had to endure the agonising wait with only rations of food and water.
The ordeal began when their AirAsia X flight left Kuala Lumpur on December 28 at 7.40pm Queensland time and flew into the Gold Coast at 7.50am in wet weather.
Visibility was so poor the aircraft was forced to divert to Brisbane for the first time in the two years that AirAsia X has been operating into Gold Coast.
Several hours later, after refuelling in Brisbane and being advised by air traffic control weather had cleared, the flight took off for the Gold Coast.
However, on approach, the weather took a turn for the worse, leading to four failed landing attempts.
The flight was diverted back to Brisbane for refuelling again.
Delays were further experienced in Brisbane the second time due to congestion at the airport.
At this time passengers were given the option to disembark, but were told AirAsia X did not have either the resources or time to offload baggage.
Concerned about their luggage, the Pratt’s stayed onboard.
During the third approach into the Gold Coast, the weather had again deteriorated, but with some openings through the clouds, the captain performed a safe landing just after 4pm.
“We do not hold AirAsia to be irresponsible professionally in any way for the conduct of the flight,” Mr Pratt said. “What we don’t understand is how or why more than 300 passengers could be held at ransom like we’re hostages?
“One irate Australian passenger trying to leave was tackled, handcuffed and led away by airport police.”
AirAsia sent an email out to the passengers of the flight apologising.
“We truly apologise for the discomfort you faced,” it read.
“Rest assured, we(’re) looking into improving our service recovery process to reduce discomfort to our valued guests at times like this.
“Kindly note that passenger safety is of paramount importance to us.
“We apologise that you were kept onboard throughout the seven hour-plus ordeal.”
Sunshine Coast Daily