Qantas flight 122: Why were so many people and bags offloaded in Queenstown?

by Peter Newport - Feb 25, 2024

Passengers have contacted Crux following our story yesterday that revealed 65 bags were offloaded due to “strong winds in Queenstown and extra fuel” saying that people were also taken off the flight.

Eileen Cullen, a tourist from Ireland, says that she had paid extra for her and her daughter to fly from Queenstown to Sydney for the Taylor Swift concert on Friday February 23rd.

She said she arrived at Queenstown airport on Friday only to be told that the flight was unavailable, and she could not leave until today, Sunday February 25th.

Qantas told Mrs Cullen that she had been sent an email one day earlier regarding the change, an email that she did not see.

Mrs Cullen has told Crux that at least four other passengers were told at Queenstown airport that Friday’s QF 122 was no longer available to them. They were two young women from the United States heading for the Taylor Swift concert and two English girls with a connecting flight in Sydney.

An aviation expert who is familiar with trans-Tasman flights operations told Crux that the 65 offloaded bags could have removed around one tonne of weight from QF122 (around 10% of permitted weight) but that would only be required if there were unusually strong headwinds for most of the journey to Australia and special requirements for a “non-Sydney” alternative airport on arrival.

In a statement to Crux yesterday (February 24) Qantas blamed “strong winds in Queenstown and extra fuel” as the issue and did not mention any other factors. Qantas did not advise Crux that passengers were also off-loaded.

Some passengers with off loaded bags on Friday had paid $850 for the one way flight from Queenstown to Sydney.

Qantas said in an additional statement today (February 25) that no passengers were offloaded from the Friday February 2024 Flight QF 122 adding "Only baggage was offloaded due to payload restrictions caused by strong winds in Queenstown and strong winds and storms in Sydney."

Read yesterday's coverage here.

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