Qantas passenger blasts airline over 'totally unacceptable' find in luggage on Fiji holiday

The airline was accused of leaving luggage out in the rain on the tarmac for up to 30 minutes. Shirley Becke believes her bag was one of them.

Shirley Becke and her husband easting breakfast in Fiji.
Shirley Becke and her husband arrived in Fiji, having left Sydney, to discover her belongings were soaked. Source: Supplied

A Qantas airline passenger claims she was made to go the first night of her holiday without any clothes or personal items after, when arriving in Fiji, she discovered her suitcase and everything in it was soaking wet.

Shirley Becke and her husband flew out of Sydney on Friday April 5 when the city experienced a torrential downpour — its highest daily rainfall in two years. She believes her luggage was left out in the rain by airline staff before it reached the plane.

The 70-year-old contacted Yahoo News Australia after seeing a story accusing the airline of such 'unacceptable' behaviour on the same day. A photo taken at Sydney airport on April 5 shows passenger suitcases and even pets left out in the rain on the tarmac.

At the time, another passenger claimed her luggage "came home wet", accusing Qantas of leaving bags in the wild weather for up to 30 minutes, prompting an investigation. Becke believes her items were also left in sitting in the downpour.

Two trolleys with luggage and pets on tarmac next to Qantas plane.
On April 5, a photo was taken at Sydney Airport showing passenger luggage and pets left out in the rain on the tarmac. Source: Facebook

"When we arrived at our hotel and opened our bags, our clothes and toiletries (including daily meds) were wet," she told Yahoo.

"It's totally unacceptable as Qantas would have been aware of the bad weather and surely should have prepared for it. It's not good enough."

Traveller made to hang clothing on balcony overnight to dry

Becke admitted her husband's luggage was okay, however, "my suitcase was wet inside so it was put out on the balcony" to dry. So too was "all of my underwear and a number of clothes".

For the first night, and well into the next day, the 70-year-old said she had no fresh clothes to wear. "I didn’t have any dry clothing available until the next day as I had to drape all the wet clothing on the furniture located on the balcony," she said.

While she was "too busy trying to hang wet clothes" to take many photos of them, Shirley did manage to take photos of her meds. For the most part, they "appeared to be okay despite the packaging being wet".

Wet belongings including blue suit case, medication and red item of clothing.
The passenger's suitcase and everything inside it was soaked, including her medication, toiletries and clothes. The circled areas appeared the wettest. Source: Supplied

Qantas 'unable' to accept passenger's claim

On returning to Australia after a week in Fiji celebrating her birthday with her family, Becke contacted Qantas with her concerns. In an email seen by Yahoo, she was told she should have raised the issue with Qantas at the airport. However, Shirley said she couldn't have since she was unaware of the issue until she arrived at her hotel.

"We would never leave customers' baggage in the rain for any extended period, however, it’s not always possible to avoid the rain completely. For this reason, we're unable to consider a claim for water damage to baggage," Qantas said in a reply to her email. She says the airline fails to accept fault.

When contacted by Yahoo, a Qantas spokesperson said, "generally customers are understanding that during periods of extreme weather, their bag may get wet while being taken on and off the aircraft.

"When airports are impacted by severe storms, staff may be directed to leave the airport tarmac for a period of time until it is safe to continue working," they continued. "While every effort is made to ensure bags remain under cover during wet weather, safety is always our first priority."

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