Broome locals offer spare rooms to tourists after Qantas flight cancellations

Repeat late-night Qantas flight cancellations have left Broome visitors stranded without accommodation, with locals offering up spare beds to see tourists housed for the night.

The latest cancellations on Thursday, June 9 and Monday, June 13 saw the last flights out of Broome canned by Qantas due to mechanical issues, leaving passengers without accommodation.

With hotels and hostels in town at capacity, airport staff resorted to calling for help on Broome community social media groups.

Robyn Maher, who has been co-ordinating accommodation on Broome Facebook groups for passengers — including finding locals who could offer up a spare bed, couch or air mattress — said the late-night flight cancellation had become increasingly prevalent in recent weeks.

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“It’s really, really bad. It’s very terribly inconvenient for these poor people,” she said.

“I picked up a guy and he was so grateful just to have a bed because he’d been working on night shift, hadn’t had anything to eat and didn’t have anywhere to stay.”

Classic Taxis operator Jo Sampson, who alerted Ms Maher to stranded passengers at the airport, said they were grateful when they were offered a place to stay for the night.

A Cable Beach camel train at sunset.
Camera IconCable Beach, Broome. Credit: Australia’s North West Tourism/Australia’s North West Tourism

“I didn’t even charge some of them because it’s probably painful for them,” she said.

Platinum Cosmetic Ink owner and head beauty therapist Juanita French said she felt helpless after falling victim to a late-night canceled flight on June 13.

Juanita French.
Camera IconJuanita French. Credit: Supplied

“I was quite emotional because it’s not a nice feeling being stranded and not knowing where you’re going to sleep …it is quite scary,” she said.

Ms French estimates that she lost between $4000 and $6000 because of the cancellation.

“I had a full day of clients booked for Tuesday in Perth,” she said. “I called them the next morning and they were quite disgusted.

“I was thinking, am I going to be sleeping here with my suitcases? Am I going to have to sleep at a hostel? I guess all those sorts of things were coming to mind and I was quite tearful.”

Ms French said if it wasn’t for the Broome community coming together to help stranded passengers, the experience would’ve been more traumatic.

“If it wasn’t for beautiful Jo, the taxi lady who took me in, God knows what would have happened to me,” she said.

“If I can avoid it, I will never fly Qantas again.”

A Qantas spokesperson said Qantas apologized to customers who had been affected by the disruptions.

“Unfortunately, we have had to cancel a number of Broome flights recently due to aircraft mechanical requirements,” the spokesperson said.

“We now have a full-time engineer based in Broome and are working to build up our local engineering capabilities to minimize the risk of cancellations.

“We are also continuing to experience COVID-related staff challenges in some places, particularly in WA, which has been impacting our regional operations.”

The spokesperson said Qantas investigates all options to support customers during these disruptions, including finding any available last-minute accommodation.

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