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Anxious stranded passengers exchange information on Phuket today

Trapped on Phuket - Strategic Passengers Plead for Intervention

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Passengers stranded on Phuket by a malfunction in a Strategic Airlines aircraft have been told that most of them will be on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok to Brisbane on Monday night. Strategic has cancelled several Australia-Phuket flights and has yet to reveal when the service will resume.

Original Report

PHUKET: Angry passengers stranded on Phuket by Australia's relatively new carrier Strategic Airways were demanding answers from the Australian Government tonight as yet another flight was cancelled in farcical fashion.

Passengers due to leave Phuket for Australia this evening were first taken to the Phuket International Airport in the pretence that a flight might come, then transferred to a nearby Phuket resort.

Travellers accused Strategic of knowing there was never going to be a plane. The sole Strategic aircraft on the Australia-Phuket route has been stuck in Kuala Lumpur, being worked on by mechanics, for several days.

Some of the latest passengers to join the stranded list were surprised at the Naithonburi Resort to find fellow passengers to Melbourne they thought had left Phuket days ago.

One passenger, Jim Glencross, 70, from Coffee Camp, near Nimbin, who was due out on Friday for Brisbane, said tonight: ''It's a litany of lies from start to finish.

''There's going to be a civil war here. People will trash the place if they don't start getting some answers from Strategic or the Government.''

Strategic has been updating delays and cancellations involving flights to and from Phuket and Bali over the past few days on its online site but tonight the updates disappeared. It seemed online as though Strategic was functioning without ongoing delays and cancellations.

On Phuket, only one stranded passenger has been able to contact Strategic regularly - and she was today trying to organise for stranded passengers from Brisbane and Melbourne to travel home on alternative flights.

A representative for LTU, an agency working with Strategic, told Phuketwan tonight that only 17 of the stranded passengers could be accommodated on other flights out of Phuket today, leaving about 124 people from flights that were due to fly on Thursday and Friday.

Tonight they were joined at the resort by between 150 and 200 more stranded passengers, Mr Glencross said.

''When are we going to get help?'' Mr Glencross said. ''We can't even contact someone from Strategic to talk to them.''

Most of the people that Phuketwan spoke to at the resort today were resentful that they had been taken to Phuket airport twice or more in the belief that an aircraft was coming, when no aircraft was ever going to arrive.

Some were using bad language to receptionists and other passengers who were trying to help.

The reaction of passengers varied from those who were enjoying an extra few days on Phuket to others who were losing money. One was due to start a new job on Monday.

Others had missed weddings and funerals, and were worried about children and pets being cared for at home. At least two were due to have major surgery this coming week.

Passengers also said that families and friends waiting for the non-existent Strategic flights home from Phuket on Thursday and Friday had also been told nothing.

Phill Wood, from Bundaberg, said: ''The lack of communication is what gets to me. We are shuttled to the airport for long waits when there's no need.''

Mr Wood said he and two other passengers had had their passports held by Thai Immigration officials because their visas had now expired.

''I hope we are allowed to leave without having to pay the daily fine that accrues for overstaying visas,'' Mr Wood said.

In another nightmare case, Strategic had planned to send a three-month-old baby back to Australia alone on an alternative flight.

The child's family, along with scores of other passengers, spent more than 10 hours at the airport waiting for a non-existent Strategic flight.

Lerisha Holtzhausen, who lives near Point Cook in Victoria, not far from Melbourne, said she had travelled to Phuket for a holiday with five girlfriends. Three had ''escaped'' with alternative flights through Malaysia, but she and one friend had been stuck on Phuket since Thursday.

''My three year old son is at home, waiting for me,'' she said today. ''I am missing out on work, so that's not easy because I'm a single mother.''

At least one passenger who in desperation had paid $1220 for a one-way fare on a Thai Airways flight home via Bangkok said she had a whole row of seats to herself - challenging Strategic's claim that there were few available seats on alternative flights back to Australia.

Strategic began services to Phuket from Brisbane and Melbourne in February. But with the chaos on Phuket and reports of similar problems on its Perth-Bali route, the novice airline appears to have no contingency plans in the event of mechanical failures.

Jetstar experienced successive flight failures from Phuket last year and met the cost of $1 million to send a special flight to Phuket to bring home hundreds of trapped passengers from two overdue flights.

The chaos of stranded Australians abroad has probably not been experienced on this scale since the early 1970s, when charter flights often carried Australians to Europe at low cost - but some stranded passengers along the way.

Most of those charter airline companies went bust before low-cost airlines arrived to provide an alternative to full-service flights.
More on the Phuket Strategic Strandings

'Ropable' Aussie Passengers Trapped on Phuket - Again!
Latest About 220 passengers to Australia who had been stranded on Phuket by Strategic Airlines remained stranded today after their rescue flight was cancelled.
'Ropable' Aussie Passengers Trapped on Phuket - Again!

Stranded! Phuket Passengers to Australia Face More Delay
Breaking News UPDATE One passenger on a stranded flight to Australia has been mugged and 180 others are anxious after being stranded on Phuket without news of a replacement flight.
Stranded! Phuket Passengers to Australia Face More Delay

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 have been disabled for this article.


Sorry but how useless are these people? How hard is it to get another flight from phuket to australia in the middle of low season? No need to whinge, blame the government, yell at receptionists or threaten civil war... Just find another flight home!

Posted by Powderfinger on June 20, 2011 07:04


This airline launched their inaugural Phuket flight not too long ago. After witnessing the the big wigs speaking, drunk and rowdy staff, and how unpleasant they were as guests i'm not surprised. They didn't have it together for a simple event, and can't seem to get it together in the air. Guess they need a new Strategy? Karma is only a bitch if you are.

Posted by Anonymous on June 20, 2011 08:44


Hi I was one of the lucky ones to get out of Phuket on Friday after the thursday flight cancell I can tell you that there were a lot of very very upset people some with young kids and some needing medical supplies and some with very little cash The feedback from this tin pot airline was a disgrace and appears still ongoing I feel so much for these poor people who have had their holidays ruined as we did by such a company that offers a lot but delivers so much distress.NEVER NEVER will we fly with this company again and have our holiday ruined.

Posted by Graham Mayberry on June 20, 2011 12:10


my partner & I were stuck in phuket and unfortunately powderfinger not everyone can afford to pay twice to get home from a holiday maybe you should try getting stuffed around for 30 hours and see how u like it.

Posted by furious on June 20, 2011 12:43


I'm stuck in Phuket living it up with all the other ST's in Thailand and not sitting at my desk doing anything but my job. Horah for the delays!

Posted by Michael Cant on June 20, 2011 13:25


Why do people who bought cheap tickets on a rubbish airline think that the Australian Government should help them?

Fly with a reputable carrier and all issues, even if there is a delay, will be resolved.

I'm sick of whinging people craving for the nanny state to help all the time.

Posted by Wayne on June 20, 2011 14:35


Just get another flight and then claim on travel insurance.

Posted by Anonymous on June 20, 2011 15:21


How idiotic must one be to talk about "trashing the place"? I don't care how much you "suffer" but taking it out on the resort and "talk bad to" the staff at the hotel deserves condemnation.The hotel has NOTHING to do with the airline.

Posted by christian on June 20, 2011 16:49


This is a good reason to have travel insurance that covered flight cancellation due to mechanical fault (some don't) so that they could book alternate flights when the airline failed or have other items paid for.

Posted by Anonymous on June 20, 2011 17:01


What a name "POWDER FINGER " WOULD APPEAR MAYBE DOESN'T HAVE 3 KIDS TO THINK OF AND CAN'T AFFORD TO JUST GO AND BUY TICKETS HOME TO AUST. ALSO MAYBE powder maybe not all families are willing to be separated in flights. you sound like a real pain. i would like to put you in the middle of these folks and say what a s/ars like u think.These people are family people taking their kids on a hard saved for holiday to be put in shambles by a below standard flight company I think you sould be ashamed of your comments, and maybe give them a bit of rethink.

Posted by mum and dad travellers on June 20, 2011 19:59


Powderfinger, you tosser! I am a single parent who has saved for over 12 months for a family holiday with my three kids. Oh and Wayne, the tickets were the same price as Jetstar when i brought them, and i don't think they had the bad reputation that you suggest. If you don't know the details then don't comment!

Posted by Anonymous on June 21, 2011 04:40


I would just like to point out to the person who said if you have insurance you can get another ticket home, you obviously weren't stuck stuck there with us. Our flight was only listed as DELAYED for the first 16 HOURS so until they CANCEL the flight you have to pay a cancellation fee, and another ticket. I wish ALL YOU PEOPLE that don't have a clew what you are talking about would just belt up.

Posted by furious on June 21, 2011 11:43


We are not the useless one, the travel agents who recommended Strategic, the friends who had been on previous flights, this is why we chose them, when I was flying myself home after 3 days of constantly being shifted around, made to wait, told we would be on flight to be then not on lists, to have upset babies who had run out of diapers . . . if Strategic had sent someone like they said they would then the Poor Thai People would have copped less. They would tell us nothing, because it is tech fault it is not covered by insurance, also all they had to be was honest, let us know it was going to be a few days, so we could relax and not get wound up, not keep us on alert, tell us the plane was on way when it wasn't, get us to the airport twice with long delays and then cancelling, the Thai airways girls could not understand why they had taken us from the hotel. All they had to do was ring, put someone who spoke english on, and be honest with us.

Posted by sltspangled on June 21, 2011 21:28


Yeah Powderfinger....we're all useless for not running off straight away and paying $1200 to get home! Wayne....not cheap tickets mate!

The point was that the airline lied repeatedly and treated everyone like dirt - that's why people were upset, not because we were delayed.

Posted by Chris on June 22, 2011 07:20


In Australia, "bogans" save every week for a whole year for a 1-week booze-a-thon in Phuket. This fiasco is great news because the sooner these losers stay well away from Phuket, the better. G'day mates.

Posted by Detective on June 24, 2011 13:31


If you buy cheap you buy twice.

I am from Brisbane.

Fly Thai, you cheap Charlies

Posted by Bill Hamilton on June 28, 2011 10:40


Carrots serve as a great food to improve eyesight. So I heard....

Posted by Joe on June 30, 2011 15:56

Editor Comment:



I can understand the anger and frustration of those stranded and agree it is justified. Strategic failed miserably and demonstrated perhaps the worst of all "qualities" of a service provider:


That said, one should understand the difference between these low cost and the full service airlines. It is apparent that some do not since one traveller compared Strategic to Jetstar. They are both low cost.

The comparison should be made to SIA, THAI, Qantas, MAS and the likes. Sure those flights cost more but when something goes wrong, they have the financial, technical and organisational means to solve them.

They are usually the flag carrier of the respective nation and also have a reputation to uphold.

A small airline with a handful of airplanes has no redundancy or sufficient financial means. Tiger Airways doesn't even have a customer service phone number. Isn't that a bit suspicious ?

Any major airline would just simply have sent another plane after a certain period of time to pick up the passengers. Strategic could and should have chartered another plane to do so, but chose not to. Most likely because they didn't have the money to do that.

My advice to everyone and in particular to those travelling with kids: do NOT use low-cost carriers for long haul flights. Pay a little more for peace of mind and proper service.

If you choose not to, you certainly have the right to be upset and complain but don't get upset when someone suggests choosing a cheap airline was perhaps not the smartest thing to do.

Posted by Chris on June 30, 2011 19:02

Sunday January 24, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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