Anger after Qatar Airways flight delayed by 37 hours

A sign at Copenhagen Airport

Carl Baron / Flickr

A sign at Copenhagen Airport

More than 250 Qatar Airways passengers due to fly from Copenhagen to Doha on Sunday finally made it here last night, more than 37 hours behind schedule.

Many of the travelers are furious with the lengthy delay, which the national carrier told Doha News was due to a technical fault with its aircraft, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

This is the second Qatar Airways flight this month that has been delayed because of problems with a 787.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner for illustrative purposes only.

Simon Boddy/Flickr

Boeing 787 Dreamliner for illustrative purposes only.

Less than two weeks ago, one of the airline’s Dreamliners was forced to make an emergency landing. The plane was carrying some 254 passengers from Oslo to Doha and apparently had engine trouble.

What happened

On Sunday, passengers at the gate were told flight QR164 to Doha was being delayed and then canceled because of “extraordinary circumstances.”

The airline paid for taxis for some passengers to go home, and put others in a hotel for the night.

But according to many travelers who expected an update on Monday morning, Qatar Airways did not get back in touch with them until 9pm that night.

Some vented their anger about the lack of communication on Twitter:

In a statement to Doha News, Qatar Airways said it had worked to pacify passengers:

“Due to a technical issue, a significant delay resulted on this flight during which time passengers were offered hotel accommodation or re-accommodated on alternative flights.”

Hotel meeting

Airline representatives also visited the hotel where some 70 passengers were staying, according to Danish traveler Sebastian Nørgaard.

Speaking to Doha News, he said the reps apologized on Monday night for the delay, but had no flight status updates.

Instead, representatives distributed a letter to passengers that explained the airline had not been able to book people onto alternative flights with other carriers because it was the “high season.”

Nørgaard said that some passengers raised their voices and cried at the meeting. Others decided to cancel their flights and return home.

And some said they felt abandoned by the airline:

At around midnight, the passengers were finally told that their Qatar Airways flight would leave on Tuesday.

Flight QR164 finally took off from Copenhagen at 1:44pm local time yesterday, 37 hours after its originally scheduled departure.

Flight tracking websites show that the same aircraft was used for the return trip, confirming that the airline’s engineers did finally succeed in fixing the unspecified technical fault.

Compensation claims

Passengers said Qatar Airways gave them meal vouchers and helped rebook missed connecting flights without charge.

But Nørgaard told Doha News that the airline has not offered passengers any financial compensation for the delay, or advised them of how to go about filing claims.

However, Qatar Airways told Doha News that its staff did inform passengers of their rights to claim compensation for the delay under EU regulations.

Passengers and on board the delayed flight to Doha from Copenhagen on July 19

Sebastian Nørgaard

Passengers on board the delayed flight to Doha from Copenhagen on July 19

Because QR164 departed from an airport inside the European Union, the flight is governed by the EU’s compensation rules for flight delays.

Typically, when a flight is delayed by more than four hours from an EU airport to a non-EU airport, travelers are eligible for EUR600 (QR2,407) in compensation.

However, carriers can be exempt for technical problems that are “out of the ordinary,” such as a manufacturer default.

The airline told passengers that this delay was due to “extraordinary circumstances.”

Were you a passenger on the flight from Copenhagen to Doha? Thoughts?

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