At just about this time last year, my family was heading off towards the Great Barrier Reef. We spent a couple days in Sydney and were ready to fly off to tropical paradise. After a great breakfast in Hilton Sydney, we got an Uber to the airport with more than enough time to drive to the airport, check our bags, go through security and make it to the plane, or so we thought.
My dad had chosen to fly with JetStar up from Sydney to Hamilton Island. It was not the cheapest choice even after you factor the cost of seat selection and bags but the times were better.
We arrived close to two hours before the scheduled departure time. Even without the TSA PreCheck that we have in the US, we thought we were fine.
When our Uber finally got to JetStar’s terminal we realized that we did not have nearly as much time as we thought. There was no place for our Uber to pull over. We had to move quickly to get out of the way of incoming traffic. The line was awful, and I mean awful. There were rows and rows of crowded lines. The line extended out of the terminal doors and down the entire walkway of the terminal.
We decided to divide and conquer. My mom and brother went to the back of the line outside and my dad and I went inside to see what was going on. Apparently, the line had begun to back up because there had been an error in the computer and not nearly enough computers for everyone.
This was only a couple days before Christmas so many people were on the road.
We had to check our bag due to its size and the liquids we had in it. We asked some people how long they had been waiting. The people standing right outside the doors had waited close to 30 minutes and were not even in the bulk of it. If we had waited in the entire line, it would have taken at least two hours. I am not exaggerating; the lines were a mess. It felt like we were at a concert due to the commotion and how jammed everyone was.
We asked a JetStar representative what we could do and she told us we could go on the special line for those traveling with children. We got our bags and got into the new line. Unfortunately, that line only had one person working the desk for all 30ish people in line. To make matters worse, they announced that if you were on the next flight, you could cut the special line. Now we had at least another 45 people in front of us in line.
Finally, 15 minutes before the departure of our flight, we made it to the front of the line, checked our bags and got to security as fast as we could. It did not matter that we had been in the special line because anyone on our flight was invited to come to the front of the line at the same time we made it to the front.
We made it to security, got through as fast as we possibly could, and my brother and I sprinted to the gate. The security line had been relatively short, which was good, but just the process of walking through the terminal was extremely difficult due to how many people were in such a small place. We got through security after the scheduled boarding time and only five minutes before they were supposed to close the door.
When we arrived at the gate, we learned that they had delayed our flight because if they took off on time, then they would have had to leave with only around 65% of the people booked on the flight. The flight was delayed 45 minutes, which would have been helpful to know before sprinting all the way to the gate. I had enough time to grab a meat pie and a smoothie before boarding and jetting off.
I really wish that I could say that it was only something that we did that caused this experience to be so bad just for us. However every single person checking in in person or checking a bag would have had to do the exact same thing. I really hope that JetStar can improve so this does not happen to anyone else. Next time, I’m choosing to fly Qantas and checkout their domestic lounge with One World Sapphire.
Joyce Turner says