NZ Taylor Swift fans hit as Qantas offloads 65 bags at Queenstown airport

by Peter Newport - Feb 24, 2024

Also read our Sunday Feb 25 update - passengers were also bumped off the flight.

Fans who paid top dollar to travel to Sydney for Saturday's Taylor Swift concert are fuming after Qantas offloaded their bags just before the flight took off.

Two passengers, who paid a total of $1,700 for two one way Qantas tickets from Queenstown to Sydney, told Crux that the airline left 65 passenger bags behind due to concerns on Friday (Feb 23) over the weight of the aircraft and the length of the runway.

One of the passengers, Queenstown hotel manager Suzanne Pentecost, says their bags only weighed 15 kg, half of the allowed 30kg allowance that their tickets included. 

She told Crux "I’m just more fuming as my Taylor swift outfit is in there which I won’t receive before the concert! "

Crux understands that the offloading of bags by Qantas on flights between Queenstown and Sydney has affected a large number of passengers and there have been reports of many people, in previous situations, having to wait days to get hold of their luggage. 

Suzanne Pentecost says she was told by baggage staff at Sydney airport that this is a regular occurance. 

Qantas operates Boeing 737-800 aircraft (different to the 737 MAX) on the flight to Queenstown which requires more runway and can carry less weight at take off than Air New Zealand's Airbus A320 aircraft.

Qantas told Crux today:

“We understand that anytime customers’ baggage doesn’t arrive it is extremely frustrating. Due to strong winds in Queenstown we had to carry extra fuel which meant some customers bags weren’t able to be carried. The baggage will be put on a flight to Sydney today (February 24) and couriered out to customers.”

Qantas did not respond to a question from Crux regarding any compensation for the affected passengers. 

Crux has been told that Queenstown passengers on yesterday's (Feb 23) QF 122 flight to Sydney should get their bags by courier today from the same flight. However Qantas says that the flight is delayed and won't land in Sydney until 7.45 pm (AEST), 90 minutes after the start of the Taylor Swift concert.

Queenstown airport issued the following statement to Crux when asked about the suitability of the Qantas 737-800 for operating out of Queenstown:

"The four airlines that operate across the Tasman at ZQN all use very similar sized, or identical aircraft. The runway is designed for these short-haul narrow body aircraft types for which the runway length at ZQN is suitable.

"Each airline manages payload (carrying capacity) for their aircraft operations.  Conditions at the departure and destination airports, as well as en route, influence decisions each airline makes with respect to payload."

The runway at Queenstown airport is 1,889 metres long. Christchurch International Airport Ltd is planning a controversial new international airport at Tarras that would have a runway length of up to 2,600 metres.

Christchurch airport argues that their Tarras project (in blue above) would solve issues associated with Queenstown's relatively short runway. Source: CIAL.

Queenstown airport plans to spend $15 million this year on the construction of new safety measures to reduce the risk of an aircraft overshooting the runway.

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