|VietJet Air Passengers getting off |
their plane that went out of service for
10 hours. Image source: Thanh Nien
Passengers at Phu Quoc Airport (PQC) for hoping for an uneventful short flight to Saigon (SGN) were subject to rolling delays amounting to 10 hours that apparently included the aircraft itself repeatedly going around in circles from paddock (there currently are no jet bridges attached to the terminals, so boarding is by bus and airstairs) to taxiways back to its parking spot.
From personal experience, the flight time from PQC to SGN should take about 40 minutes, or about an hour from gate to gate.
A mechanical issue was reported to be the problem, and I don't fault anyone for playing it safe, but this severity of this delay was compounded by several variables:
- The mechanical fault itself;
- PQC is essentially a remote outstation on an island, with no aircraft maintenance services present. Even if VJ wanted to borrow VNA's tools and equipment, they couldn't (not that VNA would want to lend them the tools);
- VJ only has 3 flights a day from SGN, where the part was coming from;
- VNA only has 4-5 flights a day, many on small prop planes, so it would have been tough to get passengers reaccommodated (again, only if VNA was a willing participant);
- There are limited services at PQC, and I'm not sure if VJ handed out vouchers that could be used at the couple of eateries there (with my most major delay with VNA, they passed out meals out of a galley cart).
- VJ fully utilizes its small fleet, so no other aircraft would be available as a replacement, especially at an outstation.
Mechanical issues are inevitable, but it's how airlines handle the irregular operations (IRROPS) that make or break the passengers' experience.
One more interesting tidbit: It looks like there was a decree requiring airlines to refund passengers their airfare if their flight was delayed by more than 5 hours. We'll see how VJ handles this (I wouldn't be surprised if this "refund" came in the form of a voucher for future use on the airline).
Sounds like VJ gets a D- on this occurrence (and not a full-blown F, since apparently they did try to feed the passengers).