Qantas Passengers Spend Entire Night On Tarmac In Newcastle

Worst layover ever.

Qantas VH-ZNJ sitting on the tarmac.

Image: The Next Rush

We’ve all experienced our fair share of air travel delays, but some unfortunate travellers flying from Chile to Australia with Qantas last week have just had a particularly bad one.

Passengers en route from Santiago to Sydney last Saturday had an unexpected delay to their journey when a storm set them down in Newcastle for the night.

Spending your night in an airport terminal is no one’s idea of a good time, but at least it might provide room to stretch your legs, lie down for a sleep, or get a decent meal. The passengers on this plane, however, were informed that they had to remain in the fuselage for the duration of the storm, which finally passed at around 10 am the next morning. That’s right: they weren’t allowed off the plane.

This is due to a lack of long-haul facilities at Newcastle Airport. Unable to immediately refuel, and with no accommodation or immigration provision at the airport, passengers received the regrettable news that they should get comfy in their seats and load up a movie for the night while staff tried to ease their pains with freshly purchased McDonald’s and free drinks.

Still – that’s pretty grim, and not an amazing look for Newcastle Airport or Qantas.

Qantas jet sits on the runway at Newcastle NSW after setting down in storm.
The Qantas plane sat stationary for over seven hours on the Newcastle tarmac. Image:

Qantas had this to say: “We understand that this would have been a frustrating experience for our customers and an uncomfortable night, and we thank them for their patience and understanding of the impact the storms had on flights into Sydney.”

Luckily, Newcastle Airport is set for major upgrades to its runway and terminal buildings that will allow for larger aircraft and international travellers after securing two bouts of funding totalling over $120 million.

Previously, Newcastle has only operated seasonal flights to New Zealand, but the upgrades are expected to bring over 850,000 visitors to the region over the next two decades. Airport CEO Dr Peter Cook has ambitions to transform Newcastle from a regional centre into something much greater, hoping to “connect to a significant Asian or Middle Eastern hub by 2024.”

We’d be pretty ropable, though. No amount of McNuggets would make me feel any better stuck that long…