The Qantas flight which was supposed to land at London Heathrow airport on 23 December after 6 am from Singapore had to make an emergency landing in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, due to a warning light indicating a possible fire in the cargo hold. This caused the flight to land in London on Christmas morning, 25 December, after a 48-hour delay.
Clare Kennett, One of the passengers on the flight, described the frustration of the passengers caused by the long wait while commending the captain for landing at a non-destination location to get the plane checked out and further helping with the procedures.
The former IT consultant mentioned that the information had been lacking from the airline in the early stages of the delay and that passengers waited hours at Baku airport for visas before going to a hotel and information regarding a relief plane to take them to London or any explanation about the circumstances was not disclosed which left them feeling upset.
She has told the PA news agency: “Qantas as a company have just sent short factual emails which appears very cold at Xmas.
“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 tried 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.
A Qantas representative was sent to the hotel to explain the reason for the delay of the relief plane, which was permissions for the flight path to Baku, and the delayed departure was caused by the curfew cut-off time at Heathrow.
She said: “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).”
However, the passengers were not officially notified whether or not the warning light indicating a possible fire was a faulty indicator, even though no smoke was detected in the cargo hold.