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Now Alan Joyce blames ‘not match fit’ passengers for queues

written by Adam Thorn | April 8, 2022

Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has risked the ire of frustrated passengers by blaming “not match fit” travellers for the long queues forming at airports on Friday.

“I went through the airports on Wednesday and people forget they need to take out their laptops, they have to take out their aerosols … so that is taking longer to get through the queue,” he said in comments reported by The Sydney Morning Herald. He added COVID close-contact rules were causing “high level of absenteeism” of up to 18 per cent.

It follows Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert similarly highlighting “inexperienced passengers” for the travel chaos seen around the country.

Culbert, though, apologised and said a “perfect storm” of issues were responsible, including COVID isolation and increased demand post-Omicron.

“We would like to apologise to passengers who are being inconvenienced and would like to thank people who are getting to the airport early, wearing their masks and making sure they are prepared for their check-in and security processes,” said Geoff Culbert.

“Traffic numbers are picking up, travellers are inexperienced after two years of not travelling, and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport.

“We encourage everyone to get to the airport early and we ask everyone to be patient as the industry gets back on its feet.”


Angry travellers, however, have taken to social media to post photos and videos of the travel disruption, with many blaming the airport management for failing to anticipate the upcoming problem.

“Somehow @SydneyAirport has yet again failed to anticipate school holidays, with some security processing lanes still closed and queues to the door in both terminals,” said Twitter user Jasmin CHill.
“You’re blaming customers for being inexperienced?” said @esesesse. “What does this mean?”

Brisbane Airport is also expecting its busiest day for domestic travel in two years, with nearly 52,000 people flying within Australia.

It follows calls from the Australian Airports Association for passengers to arrive in good time for their flights and maintain respectful behaviour.

“There may be different processes in place since the pandemic began including different security screening and check-in procedures as well as state health requirements,” said the organisation’s chief executive, James Goodwin.

“People are reminded that they should not travel if they are unwell and government mandates to wear facemasks in the terminal and on the aircraft are still in place.

“As we all get used to travelling again it’s also important any frustrations are not taken out on airport staff who are working harder than ever to assist passengers.”

The AAA said there was a “noticeable increase” in reports of bad behaviour and frustrations spilled over during COVID.

On Thursday, Australian Aviation reported how Gold Coast Airport is set to become Australia’s first major airport to fully recover from COVID, with passenger and flight numbers on course to beat pre-pandemic records over Easter.

The business is expecting 24,000 passengers to fly on Easter Monday – more than the all-time record set in the aftermath of the city’s Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Queensland Airports chief executive Chris Mills said, “After a challenging two years, confidence in travel is returning, and the region is seeing the benefits of the leisure market recovery in particular.”

Already, more than 21,000 passengers have come through Gold Coast Airport on Friday, 1 April, making it the busiest day of the year and the best since mid-March 2020.

Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide are still a long way off from returning to similar passenger or flight levels in total, with more usual reliance on international flying.



Comments (11)

  • Mike Linke


    I’d agree with Joyce. I’ve caught thirty or forty flights this year and the last couple of weeks queues have lengthened. Mostly because of passengers. People stand in a queue for fifteen, twenty minute and get to the check point and then decide to take off their belt or get their computer out of their bag. Be prepared and be ready to go through the check point. Plus don’t carry on so much, so many people now carry on multiple bags.

  • Rod Pickin


    Sorry A.J. – the queues and delays displayed are not the fault of the poor old customer, (some say guest), sure in part they would have contributed, only in numbers BUT! you will have to look inside the square this time, – Covid inspired rules, practices and procedures, – airline checkin style type and operation including numbers of and adequate support staffing, the perennial hassles at security, again every departure point is different in manner style and attitude and lack of staff numbers and finally whilst I don’t condone aggro from anyone you have to be serious here and acknowledge that when confronted with the hassles, hot, sticky and waiting waiting waiting when it is not the customers fault, well, some fuses will blow. Finally and with respect, AJ and the airport bosses are clearly playing C.Y.A. here.

  • Sarah Finbes


    Yeah maybe if he didn’t sack all his employees to get a bigger yearly bonus, then blame it on “covid”. The cracks are now showing in his incompetence and greed.

  • Anthony


    How unusual. Alan Joyce blames everyone but himself. Has complained continually about the decisions made by our politicians regarding border closures. They had a whole country to run. He can’t even run an airline. And by the way Alan, the so called issues you say can be done online, they can’t. That’s why theses people are on the phone.

  • Charles


    Alan Joyce sacked 2,500 experienced ground staff and outsourced their jobs with undertrained people employed by a foreign owned companies that has cut their ill equipped staff numbers by almost half so what the hell do you expect !!.

  • Captains Rant


    Here’s a radical thought, how about cancelling this ridiculous airport security theatre around laptops and liquids? Has there been bombs on trains since 9/11?
    It’s all BS built around the “woo” of aviation and the inordinate publicity air crashes invite; while people die by the plane-load on our roads every month.

    • Clipped Wing


      Just a thought Captain – Is it possible that we have not seen any bombs or 9/11 style incidents because of the “ridiculous” airport security? These measures are brought in as a deterrent to ensure those events do not happen again. I would have thought that especially with the current geopolitical issues, these measures would absolutely be necessary. Don’t get me wrong – I’m never a fan of queuing or the entire process of belts, laptops, etc. however I understand that it is a hugely important factor of me being able to get to my destination safely.

  • Loma Roasa


    Mr Joyce can go #%^^& himself this is utter bs. Qantas staff are poorly trained and incompetent. Their flights are late and/or cancelled. We had minutes to spare to catch our connecting flight and our luggage clearly missed that flight and the subsequent flights that evening. Qantas lost our luggage. There was no one to be found in baggage services at Sydney airport for us to find our luggage the next morning before our international flight with another airline. Customer service and customer care is appalling.

  • Mark


    How hard it must be for Alan Joyce & Qantas to have to put up with the Australian Public .

  • FFDazza


    Hey airports spend some of that ridiculous profit you make on new generation scanners, news extract from 2019 :

    “Melbourne Airport (T4) will be the first in the country to feature high-tech security scanners that will allow travellers to keep items such as laptops and liquids in their carry-on luggage.”

    Australian airports are inconsistent in security processes so get your act together and stop blaming your “guests”

  • PaulE


    What a cop-out from Alan Joyce! Is he going to blame the customers for the outrageously long wait when contacting the call centres only to be served by someone who knows less about the terms and conditions and timetables than the website? Or for lost and damaged luggage? I have waited for longer than 6 hours for a callback that was supposed to only be 30 minutes. Understaffed, untrained staff and changing rules at the airport are to blame for the outrageous delays, not the loyal customers.

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