Flight delayed for two days in Azerbaijan now landing on Christmas morning

Passenger criticises company over 'poor communications' but praises crew

The Qantas flight from Singapore to London Heathrow had been due to land shortly after 6am on December 23. AFP
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Passengers on board a Qantas flight to London that was delayed for two days in Azerbaijan hope to land in England on Christmas morning.

One passenger on board the plane has told how they needed to show “a bit of Dunkirk spirit” as they dealt with an emergency landing and the 48-hour delay.

The Qantas flight from Singapore to London Heathrow had been due to land shortly after 6am on December 23, but stopped in Baku with a warning light indicating a possible fire in the cargo hold.

Clare Kennett, from West Sussex, described the frustration of the long wait she and other passengers had to endure.

She said the captain had done the right thing in making the diversion and praised the Qantas crew, but said information had been lacking from the company.

Passengers spent hours at Baku airport waiting for visas so they could go to a hotel, and were also left with questions about the wait for a relief plane to take them to London, she said.

The replacement plane was due to land at Heathrow Airport early on Christmas morning, she added.

Ms Kennett said they were left with “no explanation” as to what was going on for a period of time at the hotel, adding that there were “a lot of people very upset”.

“Qantas as a company have just sent short factual emails which appears very cold at Christmas,” she said.

“We were all very frustrated by the 10 or 11 hours that a lot of people spent at the airport. The crew were great. They gave us food, were talking to us, they were playing with the kids and just trying to make light of the situation. They were really good.

“And even the captain was out with the flight deck crew helping with the passports and getting the visas organised. So it really was a bit of Dunkirk spirit. But yeah, it just took so long and everyone was really tired.”

A representative from Qantas was eventually sent to the hotel from Sydney to explain that the delay of the relief plane getting to them was due to permissions for the flight path to Baku, and the delayed departure was due to the curfew cut-off time at Heathrow.

“The reason why the rescue flight took so long to get here and therefore missed its window at Heathrow was because of the machinations of trying to get approvals to fly in a direct route from Sydney to here [Baku],” she said.

Ms Kennett said she had sympathy for people who were due to get connecting flights onwards from London, and was grateful she was not too badly affected.

She said passengers had not been told officially whether the warning light indicating a possible fire was simply a faulty indicator, but that she had heard no smoke was detected in the cargo hold.

Qantas has been contacted for comment.

Updated: December 25, 2022, 8:34 AM
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