Some 200 passengers on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Melbourne were greeted with an unpleasant surprise when they landed at Melbourne Airport on Wednesday: they would have to go through security again.
After Qantas flight QF487 landed, bewildered passengers were forced to wait for 15 minutes on the plane and then at a gate before being escorted back to the arrival hall to go through the security process for a flight that had already been completed.
The reason for the second screening, a Qantas spokesperson later confirmed in a statement to The Guardian, was that at least one of the passengers on the flight had failed to through security prior to the flight taking off.
“As a precaution, all passengers on QF487 were escorted from the aircraft when it landed in Melbourne and taken through the screened part of the airport into the unscreened area,” the spokesperson said.
Qantas flight QF487 Syd - Melb just landed deemed unscreened flight. All 200+ passengers will be escorted by AFP, Vic Police, security - no toilet stops - to security screening. Flight attendant never heard it happening over 20 years flying @Qantas @StephenLongAus @4corners pic.twitter.com/Q73hfvIu2o
— Patrick Durkin (@patrickdurkin) September 7, 2022
That passenger, who declined to be identified by name, told 9News that their failure to go through security was not malicious. The passenger said that they boarded a regional flight to Sydney for which they were not required to go through security, and then were not forced to go through a security check, as is the normal procedure, when they arrived at the Sydney airport.
The passenger estimated that between 40 and 60 people were in a similar position of not being screened when they were supposed to be at the Sydney airport.
Qantas, Australia’s largest airline, has dealt with a raft of negative press in recent months due to operational issues and flight cancelations that stem in part from understaffing. Qantas cut a number of positions during the travel slowdown in the midst of the Covid pandemic, and the company’s CEO Alan Joyce has said that staff illnesses has taken a toll as well.
Another passenger on the flight, Patrick Durkin, said that security officials warned passengers that they could not throw anything away before being re-screened.
“We weren’t able to go to the toilet on the way to the screening process,” Mr Durkin, who works as the Melbourne bureau chief for the Financial Review, said. “Presumably in case someone was to drop something or conceal something in the toilet.”
Mr Durkin, who was tweeting updates onboard, said that a flight attendant told passengers that they had never heard of a similar incident in more than 20 years of work.