A mother-of-three says she and her young family are stranded in one of the world’s busiest airports, after being bumped off numerous flights from London to Perth.
Sheree Richardson posted a number of photos to her Facebook page, showing her children sprawled on the floor of Heathrow Airport after reportedly being bumped from a number of Qatar flights in favour of customers will to pay for a business class fare.
“Homeless now at Heathrow with three children,” Ms Richardson wrote on the social media platform on Saturday, according to WA Today.
“Have been for three days and watch people paying for business class tickets right in front of me! 14, 11 and 1 year old it’s not right.”
Thousands of Aussie travellers and expats are still stuck abroad, facing increasing difficulties getting home as Australia’s strict limits on incoming arrivals continues.
In July, the Federal Government shrunk the number of international arrivals allowed in capital cities per week, with just 350 permitted in Sydney, 500 each in Brisbane and Adelaide, and 525 in Perth. In Canberra and Darwin, limits on flights are decided by the jurisdictions on a case-by-case basis. There are no international flights into Hobart or Melbourne.
Currently, our international border restricts airlines to carrying between 25 and 60 passengers per flight. This has intensified demand and seen prices skyrocket to as much as $10,000 a seat.
Stranded travellers have complained about getting bumped from flights multiple times, sometimes within hours of departure.
While Qatar airways says Ms Richardson and her family will be on a mid-September flight home to Perth, the airline has been forced to prioritise higher-paying passengers so they can stay profitable, sending mostly empty planes on the long and costly routes.
Earlier today, Qatar’s chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker warned the airline may need to withdraw its 16-hour flights from Doha to Australia if the Federal Government doesn’t relax passenger caps.
“We have between 38 and 42 seats in our business class. And because we have such a limited number of passengers that we can carry, we have no other alternative but to maximise the yield that we get because you know very well Australia is at the end of the world,” he told ABC’s News Breakfast on Friday.
“It is a very long flight and when we carry limited numbers of passengers you can see that it puts a huge strain on our costs.”
Ms Richardson’s situation was addressed with Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, George Brandis, on Twitter, who said their predicament was “extremely troubling”.
“No Australian should – or need be – in this position,” Mr Brandis tweeted on Sunday.
According to WA Today, it is understood the family have now been moved to a hotel.
News.com.au has contacted Qatar Airways for comment.