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Phuket yachtie Ralph Hammll, 60, of Chalong, was among those delayed on Phuket on the Strategic flight

Stranded! Phuket Passengers to Australia Face More Delay

Saturday, June 18, 2011
UPDATE

Passengers stranded on Phuket were told there will be a Strategic flight out from Phuket to Brisbane at 6.35pm tonight. But after they were processed through Immigration, they were told the flight had been delayed until 12.05am. One man is reported to have become angry with Phuket airport staff. Others were frustrated at what they called ''a charade.'' ''We just want to be told what's going on,'' a stranded passenger said. At 7.30pm, the DELAYED sign went up against the 12.05 flight. Angry passengers were beginning to lose their tempers. Ironically, most had earlier told reporters that their Phuket holidays had been extremely enjoyable. But getting home was becoming a full-blown disaster for some who had been trapped since Wednesday - and a disaster for Strategic.

Original Report

PHUKET: About 180 angry passengers have been stranded on Phuket after a Strategic flight to Brisbane was cancelled last night.

One passenger was mugged at a Phuket City ATM early today and had 10,000 baht stolen.

Most of the passengers, accommodated overnight at Royal Phuket City Hotel in Phuket City, were running short of cash and distraught over the lack of information from the new and inexperienced Australian international carrier.

It is believed it could even be the second Strategic flight cancelled - passengers delayed last night on their way to Brisbane said they had been told an earlier flight to Melbourne was also cancelled.

Phuketwan has since learned that the passengers from the earlier flight - VC241 - were due out via an LTU flight at 11am today.

Some 185 passengers from flight VC247 were anxiously awaiting news at their Phuket City hotel today, angry about the lack of contact from Strategic.

Passengers said the rooms' minibars had been cleaned out, there was no hot water, tea or coffee, and they were given only three minutes to contact relatives via the telephone at the reception desk.

No information was forthcoming from Strategic, either on Phuket or in Australia.

''Everybody is really annoyed because we haven't been given any information,'' said Jim Glencross, 70, from Coffee Camp near Nimbin, on the northern NSW coast. ''The flight was due to leave at 6.35pm but we weren't told it had been cancelled until 10pm.''

His wife Ros said: ''They have treated us like idiots. They knew much earlier that the flight wasn't taking off.'' It is believed the aircraft was flown to Kuala Lumpur for repairs.

Phill Wood, from Bundaberg, said: ''I suspected something was up when we got to the airport. I always look for our plane, and our plane was not there.''

He added: ''We've been treated like cattle on a ship, fed and watered, but kept in the dark.''

Some passengers have been told they could be stuck on Phuket until Tuesday.

The Australian honorary consul on Phuket, Larry Cunningham, sounded the alarm via the Australian embassy and the Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra was endeavoring to contact Strategic.

Flights to Phuket from Brisbane and Melbourne were one of the charter airline's first ventures into international services in February. Concerns have since been raised about the future of the airline.

When Jetstar missed two flights from Phuket to Australia last year, the airline had to pay about $1 million to send a relief aircraft from Australia.
'Ropable' Aussie Passengers Trapped on Phuket - Again!
Latest About 220 passengers to Australia who had been stranded on Phuket by Strategic Airways remained stranded today after their rescue flight was cancelled.
'Ropable' Aussie Passengers Trapped on Phuket - Again!

Phuket's New Aussie Airline 'Facing Pressure'
Latest A report from Australia says that the loss of a defence contract and a police investigation may stress an airline that recently began connecting between Phuket and two Australian capitals.
Phuket's New Aussie Airline 'Facing Pressure'

Phuket Gains Strategic Aussie Advantage
Latest The first flight from Melbourne to Phuket by Aussie owned airline Strategic arrives on Phuket today, and the celebrations start soon after. Brisbane Phuket follows soon.
Phuket Gains Strategic Aussie Advantage

Comments

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I flew this airline and on the return leg waited patiently for 3 hours as the TV screen said "delayed." It suddenly changed to "boarding" and I hadn't even checked in my bags! They had to radio the pilot and ask if he would wait for me and another girl who was also as baffled and lost as me. Fortunately they waited for us but it was clear they were struggling to get things running smoothly. You get what you pay for and often you end up saving nothing when things like this happen. I'm going back to using Thai or Singapore airlines. Strategic was delayed both legs which put 3 hours more on the trip, so the direct flight from Melbourne turned out to be pretty meaningless in saving time. The problem with these cheap airlines is you just cannot seem to contact them if you need to.

Posted by logbags on June 18, 2011 10:41

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Airlines have legal obligations but compliance differs quite a bit between Full-service and low-cost airlines.

I use low cost airlines for short point-to-point trips where nothing much can happen but I'd never go on a long-haul trip with them.

People pay rock-bottom prices but expect top notch service. That's just utterly unrealistic.

I'm not defending Strategic airline in any way, they should take responsibility but unfortnately with low cost airlines you get what you paid for, or rather what you didn't.

Posted by Chris on June 18, 2011 13:26

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Every airline has to start somewhere! Strategic is new in the field and is growing and learning they are not low cost nor are they full price carrier they are in between! I have flown with Emirates and Singapore airlines - they ground airlines for a reason - SAFETY!! We the general public do forget this when angry or upset - I once had a 72 HR delay with Emirates and was only able to get my information through a website! I think what we all need to do is be patient as safety should come first.

Posted by Anonymous on June 18, 2011 16:50

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This is not good enough My parents sister brother inlaw and 5 month old nephew are stuck in Phuket they were due to fly out on flight 241 thursday evening they have been shunted back and forth from the hotel to airports they are not being told anything and we are doing all the calling around no one has answers and no one can help them, they have a duty of care to get all passengers back safely and QUICKLY, the airlines themselves keep making up different reasons as to why the flight is not going ahead they even told passengers about a flight arranged on another carrier when the passengers called to confirm it didnt exist! When we finally got through to Strategic air and gave them the details of our family they hung up on us! we now have to contact the australian embassy my family is frantic now no one is responding to them no one is helping them, Its about time the media got involved now, cheap or not it is their responsibility to organise flights on other carriers even if it sends them bankrupt!!

Posted by Anonymous on June 18, 2011 19:35

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Maybe they should have paid a bit more for a good airline and then they would not be complaining now- pinch a penny to lose a pound.

''cheap charlies'' are what the Thais call the Aussies and this is why - and now they are all complaining and probably wanting compensation for their own stupidity - always seems to be the Victims Culture rather than the obvious common sense approach - if you pay for low fares then you get low service - you cant expect Virgin style service when you pay low prices.

Posted by Drew on June 18, 2011 20:13

Editor Comment:

Sounds almost as though you're promoting an alternative higher-cost airline, Drew. Which one? Most decisions are made not primarily on cost but on the directness of the flight. If there are alternative flights from Phuket to Brisbane and Phuket to Melbourne, please tell us what they are.

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Spot on Chris ,long haul on a budget Auzzie airline your asking for trouble and let me guess no travel insurance to cover delays, phone calls, med ......

Posted by Scunner on June 18, 2011 20:38

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Whingeing Aussies flying an obscure airline with (most probably) little or no travel insurance! Same old, same old...

You pick an airline with limited resources, limited experience with 'tourism' product and old planes - you take your risks.

Posted by Chris on June 20, 2011 08:44

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My family - 2 adults and 2 young kids - arrived in Phuket last night, only a few hours late. They found their Strategic experience to be fine, after a stressful couple of days. The moral is take travel insurance - and always pay with a credit card on any airline. If things go horribly wrong and an airline goes under, the credit card company will refund your fare.

Posted by sue donovan on June 22, 2011 07:49


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