Many desperately need their luggage off the plane for medicines, sanitary napkins and clothes
Passengers due to fly to New Zealand are stranded at Kuala Lumpur International Airport as Malaysia Airlines cancelled fights due to Auckland floods, one such individual told Down To Earth.
The international terminal of Auckland Airport was forced to shut down for 37 hours on January 27, 2023, after incessant rains wreaked havoc here. But even after reopening, passengers who were travelling to New Zealand on connected flights, with a layover in Kuala Lumpur, are still stranded at the airport there for the last three days.
They complained about a lack of support and communication from the airlines. The airlines washed off their hands of the matter, saying they are not responsible for inconveniences caused due to natural disasters.
“The airlines did not inform us while issuing boarding passes for yesterday’s flight. We are totally stranded in an unfamiliar country and the airlines was in the dark and did not know when something would be done about it,” Aneesha (name changed), a 29-year-old woman from Kerala, told DTE.
Auckland Airport’s terminal buildings were flooded during the downpour, forcing more than 2,000 passengers to sleep at the airport after floodwaters cut off nearby roads. Many took to social media to report last-minute cancellations of their flights.
The Auckland Airport community continues to work around the clock to get people moving!— Auckland Airport (@AKL_Airport) January 29, 2023
•Yesterday 20k people flew in and out on 80 international flights
•Today we expect 25k people to fly in and out on 122 international flights
Most passengers, stranded at Kuala Lumpur, cannot go out and seek accommodation in hotels outside the airport as they do not possess any other visas.
“They were not responding to our queries. After making several enquiries, I somehow got a ticket for February 3. We have been stuck here for the last three days,” Aneesha told Down To Earth.
Many desperately need their luggage off the plane for medicines, sanitary napkins and clothes.
Aneesha told DTE:
Our bags hardly have any spare clothes or other necessary materials. While seeking information on any facilities selling sanitary pads, the authorities shouted at me, telling that this is not the place to ask for such things.
The airline provided food coupons for the first two days and arranged accommodation for the first two nights and after that, the passengers are paying for it on their own.
“We cannot afford to stay here for longer as everything is unaffordable when it comes to airports. Despite suffering for the last few days, until yesterday, the authorities were offering us only the ticket back to India.”
Also read: 2022 too short, too far: A year of disasters
The passengers called the response from the airlines ‘inhuman’ as they cited the violations they were made to endure. The authorities arranged alternate flights for passengers with ‘priority’ class tickets and the rest were left stranded.
“After tomorrow, all others stranded inside the airport, except me, will be getting their boarding passes. I'm not very sure about those who are outside the airport. My current booking for the stay will be over by today and I’m left with no option other than sitting at the gates for the next five days,” she added.
Auckland is still in a state of emergency; at least four people have died. Some 350 people are in need of emergency shelter homes and the North Island has sustained substantial damage, according to Chris Hipkins, the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
“We are going to have to deal with more of these extreme weather events in the future,” he told national broadcaster TVNZ.
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