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QANTAS: Bali flight from hell. Oops! Someone forgot to do the paperwork.

QANTAS: Bali flight from hell. Oops! Someone forgot to do the paperwork.

It looks like someone at Jetstar/Qantas forgot to do the paperwork to get landing approval at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport, Denpasar, when they changed the arriving aircraft from an A321 to the larger capacity Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The flight was refused permission to land and had to return to Melbourne when it was just shy of its Bali destination. Passengers. Not, Happy. Jan!


Flight JQ35, was initially delayed for around 5 hours from its Melbourne departure. It finally left at about 11om on Tuesday 27 December 2022. About an hour away from its arrival in Bali, the plane was directed back to Melbourne, meaning that passengers spent 8 hours in the air, only to return to their point of departure.

a group of women in clothing
Balinese dancers at Four Seasons, Sayan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

So what happened

The airline had upgraded the operating aircraft from an Airbus A321 to a larger Boeing 787 Dreamliner carrying more passengers and “due to a miscommunication, the aircraft swap was not approved by the local regulator in Indonesia” said a Jetstar spokesman, apologising for the error.

Apparently, early on – nearly 8 months ago, the aircraft was scheduled to be a 787 Dreamliner but was then downgraded to a smaller Boeing 737 and then upgraded again to the 787, which may explain why someone got confused and didn’t seek approval for the changed plane to land.

Jetstar claims passengers were accommodated in hotel rooms back in Melbourne, although some travellers dispute this, saying rooms were only offered to those who lived more than 50kms from the airport. Needless to say, passengers were not happy, possibly because they were exhausted having returned to Melbourne landing just before 7 am.

Adding insult to injury, the replacement flight on Wednesday afternoon scheduled to leave at 4:45 pm was also delayed by close to 2 hours, departing at 6:30 pm.

Jetstar also cancelled a flight to Honolulu on the same day, adding to the chaos caused by the turned-back flight

a pond with lily pads and a fountain
Entrance pond, Four Seasons, Sayan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

I have a huge amount of sympathy for the frustrated passengers and crew on this flight. Having your holiday plans substantially messed up because of a paperwork snafu is extremely frustrating. Delays caused by weather, or volcano emissions, or aircraft faults are beyond the airline’s control. A paperwork issue is exactly what airlines are in control of.

Someone should be due for a very big smack on the hand – if such things were still allowed.

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