TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Starlux Airlines is facing a backlash after a series of decisions caused passengers on two flights to spend the night without food and water at Japan’s Narita International Airport on Saturday (May 6).
A passenger named Sky Chen revealed him experience in the Facebook group Complaints Communal (爆怨公社). He was originally scheduled to board flight JX803 at 3:45 pm when it was delayed until 4:20 pm without any explanation.
Passengers saw on the internet that two earlier flights were delayed due to strong winds in Narita. Inbound JX800 was diverted to Nagoya while outbound JX801, originally scheduled for boarding at 2 pm, was unable to depart.
“At that time, everyone thought our flight was grounded due to the weather, so we waited patiently,” Chen wrote.
However, around 5:30 p.m., a Starlux representative announced that the company plans to transfer passengers from flight JX801 to JX803. “From the very beginning, the JX803 was not delayed by weather, but by convenience. Since (the airline) did not want to send another plane to transport passengers on JX801, the time of passengers on JX803 was sacrificed so that passengers on JX801 could fly back together,” Chen said.
Chen added that when passengers asked why the airline waited so long to make the announcement, the Starlux representative replied, “I gave orders, I can’t do anything if the ground crew doesn’t say anything.”
He accused Starlux of not providing water or food after passengers boarded the plane at around 7pm. midnight.
In a video Chen posted, angry passengers can be seen demanding an explanation from Starlux Airlines: “Where’s the food? You tell me! Why are you lying to us like this? We have endured it over and over again. We don’t want to do this, we’re not barbarians, but why did your ground crew manager lie to us? Neither of you are telling the truth! … You tell us ‘We handle it,’ how do you handle it?”
Passengers on JX803 were given food around 9:30 p.m., but those who boarded the plane with tickets for JX801 were given sandwiches, according to Chen.
Although Starlux promised passengers a full refund, the cabin crew refused to let them off the plane, Chen wrote. After midnight, the flight was finally canceled due to the curfew at Narita airport.
Passengers were told they would have to spend the night in the terminal, and were not allowed to leave the plane until the sleeping bags arrived. At 1 a.m., Chen reported that the passengers had finally been disembarked from the plane.
Passengers, using sleeping bags, sleep on the floor of the terminal at Narita airport. (Facebook, Lin Yi-Ting photo)
The airline initially announced that the plane would take off at 6am on Sunday (May 7), but later changed the departure time to 8am. Passengers were not given food, water, or vouchers in the morning and had to buy their own breakfast.
Starlux Airlines Chair Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒) appeared at Narita International Airport in the morning to apologize to passengers. He said in a video shot by a passenger named Tang Kai-wei (湯鎧瑋) that the delays were due to “really strong winds,” which did not convince the angry crowd.
According to Chang, JX803 was originally delayed due to an aircraft maintenance check. However, after the check was completed, the cabin crew exceeded their working hours.
Chang added that Narita airport initially agreed to delay the start of its curfew until 12:30 a.m. but went back on its word. By then, the immigration officers had left work, so the airline had no choice but to let the passengers stay in the terminal.
Chang did not explain the decision to combine the two flights, which JX803 passengers attributed as the main cause of the chaos.
Problems in Japan caused the cancellation of Starlux flights between Taipei and Los Angeles, JX002 and JX001, on Saturday and Sunday. However, the announcement was not made until 11:40 p.m., the scheduled departure time for JX002. Passengers who were at Taoyuan International Airport for JX002 reportedly reacted angrily to the sudden announcement, while a Starlux representative could not promise when the flight would be rescheduled.
Passengers bound for Los Angeles learned that their flight was canceled at the originally scheduled departure time. (PTT, Yenchun photo)