A Virgin employee has delivered a tough message to hundreds of travelers after their night flight was canceled minutes before departure – go home.
A Virgin worker went on the intercom at Sydney Airport in June to tell shocked travelers they needed to leave the domestic terminal immediately.
She advised them to either “go home” or try to book a hotel room after the 11.30pm flight to Melbourne was cancelled.
Brit Matthew Gallagher, 24, who had traveled to Australia to be with family who had moved to the country, was unable to get a hotel so late at night.
And with no local home to go to, Mr Gallagher was forced to sleep on a bench at nearby McDonald’s – along with other passengers on the same flight.
Virgin told Daily Mail Australia it was a record number of passengers, with numbers even higher than at Easter, when staff shortages and increased demand plunged many Australian airports into chaos.
Mr Gallagher described the episode as “such an awful experience” and suggested other travelers “don’t book holidays any time soon”.
An Australian airline worker broke brutal news to a young British traveler, leaving passengers stunned after their overnight flight was cancelled, forcing them to sleep at McDonalds
He posted a TikTok of the moment the Virgin announcer spoke to passengers.
“I’ll get to you right away, you basically have two choices…if you’re from Sydney, go home,” the worker said.
“Unless you’re from Sydney, I can’t reserve hotel rooms at this time of night.
“You just have to do that yourself and then claim the money back through us… I just can’t secure them, I’ve been trying on the phone to see if I’m able to.”
The Virgin worker said passengers would be reimbursed up to $220 for a hotel room and could claim additional travel expenses from the airline as long as they keep receipts.
As soon as the disgruntled passengers heard the gate agent admit that they would have to find a bed for the night themselves, they began to shout in frustration.
The Virgin employee said passengers could later claim a hotel room value from the airline up to a value of $220 a night plus travel to the room – if they keep the receipts
The Virgin employee also instructed passengers to exit the boarding gate area.
“I don’t want people hanging around longer than it takes,” she said.
Mr Gallagher’s video quickly went viral, drawing dozens of comments from travelers across Australia whose flights have also recently been cancelled.
On TikTok, dozens of users have shared similar travel nightmare stories recently.
“This happened to me yesterday when Qantas went from Sydney to Wellington,” said one man.
On TikTok, dozens of users have shared similar stories of travel nightmares at Australian airports recently
“My flight from Melbourne to Queensland was canceled an hour before we left for the airport. We couldn’t get another flight until two days later,” said one woman.
“The same thing happened to me,” said another man. “I was due to leave Sydney Airport for Melbourne and canceled the flight five minutes beforehand.”
“Travel is a nightmare this year, unfortunately there just aren’t enough staff working, but a lot of demands. The airlines cannot keep up with what they are offering,” said one woman.
TikTok followers universally praised the Virgin worker for her forthrightness.
“They screwed up a lot, but I liked that she was honest with the passengers and didn’t let them down,” said one man.
“Actually, I would have preferred that honesty rather than sitting around and guessing,” agreed one woman.
Matty Gallagher, who was traveling to Australia to visit family, was unable to find a hotel this late at night. He admitted to sleeping in McDonalds – along with other passengers (Image, stock photo of Virgin passengers waiting at Brisbane Airport in 2020)
It was assumed that the flight in question was canceled for undisclosed “operational reasons”.
A Virgin spokesman told Daily Mail Australia that passenger numbers are currently “significantly higher” than during the Easter holidays.
“The number of travelers flying with us this school holiday has increased by 15 per cent compared to 2019, which is significantly higher than last Easter holiday,” said a Virgin spokesman.
“We are not immune to the challenges of the world and our team works incredibly hard to help our guests get to their destination safely.
“We sincerely apologize to all guests affected by changes to our flight schedule and we are working around the clock to ensure our guests get to their final destination safely.
“Airports and airlines worldwide are seeing tremendous demand as travelers return to the skies as pandemic restrictions ease.”