On Wednesday 15th January 2020, I was on the scheduled on the 7.55pm flight from Brisbane to Melbourne after attending the BoothCon conference.
Unfortunately as we arrived at the airport, the flight had been delayed by just under 4 hours for a new departure time of 11.46pm and a 3.06am arrival.
Our check in agent at the priority line was very helpful, offering us a change of flight so we could go and stay an extra night if we’d like, but as we had meetings in the morning, we opted against this.
Luckily, we had access to the Virgin Lounge through my Platinum membership, allowing us to sit in the lounge for some time waiting for our flight. At 10.22pm, my TripIt app notified me the flight had been cancelled.
At the same time, the main lounge staff member was personally letting all guests know of said cancellation before announcing on the PA. Obviously, bloody annoying as we now would miss our morning meetings.
Unsure at what would be happening, we sat in the lounge to let events pan out. At 11.42pm, an SMS and email was received with my new flight details (7.55am), whilst my colleague was placed on the 3.55pm. I assume that I got a much earlier flight as I am a Platinum member, as well as had upgraded my seat to business class many weeks ago to business class.
We decided to join the queue to speak to the lounge staff to see if they were putting us up in a hotel. From looking at the cancelled flight policy, we would get accomodation provided, or if they couldn’t provide, up to $220 reimbursement.
Luckily, we didn’t have to organise a hotel as they put us up in the Pullman Brisbane King George Square, whilst also providing two $100 CabCharge cards and let us know we could charge up to $50 on the room for meals or whatnot, in addition to providing new boarding passes.
We collected our bags and grabbed taxis. At the Pullman, it seemed anyone turning up at the hotel could have gotten a free room from Virgin, no paperwork was checked!
Apparently there were a tonne of flights cancelled to Melbourne due to the storms (I heard 50 from a Virgin staff, but that sounds high) and our flight was cancelled as they could not get staff required to fly it.
I imagine that Virgin were not happy about this as the hotel rate on check in said $190, plus about $50 each way for taxis and a meal charged is an expensive cancellation!
The next morning, I missed my flight!
Next morning I checked out nice and early (6.30am) and went to grab a taxi. After about 15 minutes of no taxi turning up, I switched to Didi ride share and got one within a few minutes.
But alas, the trip to the airport took over 50 minutes for what should have been 15 minutes, due to a smash in the airport toll road tunnel. His plus the delay in getting a ride, meant I was too late to check my bags in.
Luckily, the service desk were amazing and didn’t blame me at all and managed to get me on the very next flight. Not sure how they managed this but luckily didn’t have to wait around for my own fault.
I guess it was a good time to miss my first flight when Virgin had cancelled the flight I had been plenty early for the day before!
On people cracking it at Virgin staff
Seriously. Do you think they wanted to cancel the flight? It costs them a tonne and also makes their job a lot harder. Yelling and complaining to staff for something outside of their control is unnecessary.
I personally think Virgin handled this pretty well.
They made it as easy as possible for everyone inconvenienced Brough providing a nice hotel, a meal allowance and taxi vouchers. They were obviously trying to get people to their destinations as soon as possible the next day based on very full flights.