Qantas passengers wait at a Singapore hotel after their Boeing 747 developed… (Tim Chong / Reuters )
Qantas passengers continued to be stranded Friday in Los Angeles and elsewhere as the Australian airline scrambled to rebook customers scheduled to fly on its Airbus A380 fleet, which was grounded after an engine exploded on one of the giant aircraft. The carrier said it was contacting affected fliers.
On its website, Qantas Airways said it was investigating the incident, which forced one of its A380s to make an emergency landing Thursday in Singapore, and "we will not resume flying until we are completely confident that it is safe to do so." Customers can check the carrier's Flight Status page for updates on their flights, it added.
Some fliers said Qantas was paying their expenses during the delay, so be sure to ask.
Bill and Carolyn Kurth of Cape Coral, Fla., were part of an estimated 200 people stranded in Los Angeles when their flight out of LAX was postponed Thursday. The group was headed to Sydney for a business meeting. Bill Kurth said Qantas was comping their hotel rooms and issuing meal vouchers. Shortly before noon Friday, their flight status was still uncertain.
“We’ve been hearing that we may be getting out, but we don’t know for sure,” Bill Kurth said.
The passengers in Kurth’s group were scattered among three hotels in the L.A. area, with about 100 at the Los Angeles Marriott Downtown. The Marriott guests were told to be back at the hotel at 5 p.m., in hopes that buses could shuttle them back to LAX for flights aboard one of Qantas' other aircraft models.
“They have a couple of people in the lobby trying to answer questions as best they can,” Bill Kurth said.
Qantas flies six A380s in an international fleet that also includes 26 B747s and 14 A330s, with about 30 more aircraft that can be deployed internationally as needed. The A380s account for about 8% of weekly departures on Qantas.
"So if you are not booked on an A380 flight, please assume that your flight will go ahead as scheduled," the airline said on its website. It added that most of its international flights and all its domestic flights were operating normally.
In the meantime, aerospace experts are debating whether the engine blowout was an isolated incident or a troubling reminder that plane makers and their suppliers have been stretched thin by ambitious new jets. And passengers are wondering whether they should fly on the A380.
On Friday, another Qantas jet, this time a Boeing 747, was forced to return to Singapore after developing engine trouble, Bloomberg News reported.