Auckland: Qatar Airways leaves Doha-bound passengers stranded under mysterious circumstances

Passengers on a Qatar Airways flight that was supposed to depart Auckland on Sunday evening are facing their third night in a hotel, with the airline offering "no information" as to what happened.

The flight to Doha via Adelaide was scheduled to depart at 6.25pm Sunday. One passenger has now been rebooked onto a flight that will depart on Wednesday evening.

Jeff Howell, who was meant to be on the original flight, said he was at the gate and waiting to board when an announcement came over the intercom advising the flight had been delayed.

Half an hour later, the announcement was repeated. At roughly the time the flight was due to take-off, they were told to make their way back through the airport to the Qatar Airways check-in desk.

Howell said this involved completing the arrivals process for entering New Zealand, including filling out passenger arrival cards and going through customs. When they got to the baggage claim, they found all of their luggage already waiting for them on the conveyor belt.

"It was a very unusual experience."

At the Qatar Airways check-in desk, they were told to go outside and wait for a bus that would take them to hotels. Howell ended up at the Airedale Boutique Suites on Queen St.

"No one had any idea what was going on," Howell said.

"I guess the other passengers were doing what I was doing most of the night, which was trying to get hold of Qatar Airways to see what was going on."

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Howell, who had booked direct with the airline, said he was unable to get through to their call centre, and responses to messages he sent on social media offered no information.

On Monday, Howell said the hotel receptionist told passengers they needed to check out, with another bus set to pick them up at 2pm.

While he thought they would be heading back to the airport, they were taken to another hotel – this time, the President Hotel on Victoria St, where he spent Monday night.

Howell said the hotel told them on Tuesday they would be staying for another night.

"We're just kind of holed up here," he said.

"No one's given us any money to buy any food or anything like that. The hotel was generous enough to put breakfast on for us this morning."

On Tuesday afternoon, he received an email from the airline containing a new ticket, which had him departing at 6.20pm on Wednesday.

Howell, who is from Hamilton, said if he had known what was happening he would have preferred to have gone home and waited, but was advised by his travel insurance provider to stay put.

"They said they haven't cancelled the flight, so you're stuck," he said.

Howell said his main frustration was the lack of communication from the airline.

"You [shouldn't] have radio silence for three days... and you [shouldn't] rely on the hotel receptionist to communicate what you're doing. It's just nuts."

Other passengers have posted about the flight on social media, with one Twitter user sharing a text message from the airline which said the flight had been delayed due to "extraordinary circumstances".

Qatar Airways has been approached for comment.

Stuff.co.nz

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