I knew there was a reason I didn’t take early morning flights, but rather preferred to fly in the night before !
My flight this morning – the 7:15am flight from Sydney to Melbourne – stood on the taxiway near the far end of runway 2 at Sydney airport (a LONG way from the terminal), while the flight crew conversed with engineering about a problem they had on the flight deck. They then announced we would be taxiing back to the terminal so that engineering could have a look at the problem.
Once back at the terminal (we were still seated), after a while, they announced they would be at least another 15 minutes, and anyone wishing to make phone calls could exit the plane to the sky-bridge (but not out into the terminal) – and promptly more than half the plane got up and walked out to make calls !
Eventually, they got the all-clear and we were underway again – landing in Melbourne at around 10am, 75 minutes late.
I walked down to the taxi queue outside the Qantas terminal at Melbourne airport, only to find the queue stretching back about 100m from the normal queueing point – but it also stretched across the road in the other direction – they seemed to be boarding taxis from a single queue on the other road – most unusual.
Within 10 -15 minutes, the line behind me had stretched back a further 100-200m, all the way from the Qantas terminal, and past the International Terminal. I estimate by the time I got into a taxi the queue was close to 400m long.
It took a further hour to eventually get into a taxi, by which time the cause of the delays became a little more obvious – a fleet of ambulances started departing the Virgin Blue terminal and we noticed police cars blocking the roadway (hence the strange taxi queueing system).
Once in a taxi – we caught a news report about some type of chemical spill or something affecting staff and passengers at the Virgin Blue terminal.
I finally reached the IBM office at Southgate at around 11am – a full 2 hours later than I had anticipated arriving (my meeting was due to start at 10am). Some of my colleagues were also flying down, and several of them were on flights scheduled after mine, and arived hours earlier than I did.
From news.com.au: Terminal reopens after leak
MELBOURNE Airport has reopened its Virgin Blue and Regional Express terminal after a mystery leak caused chaos for passengers and affected almost 60 people.
The terminal reopened shortly after 6pm (AEDT) and Virgin Blue expected to have flights leaving the airport by about 8pm (AEDT).
“We’re trying to move as many people as we can tonight,” Virgin Blue spokeswoman Amanda Bolger said.
The cause of the leak that forced the terminal closure remains a mystery.
Firefighters were unable to find any evidence of what made 57 people ill this morning.
“The source has not been located or identified,” a Metropolitan Fire Brigade spokesman said.
“All (chemical detection) readings are showing zero.”
Firefighters had spent the day testing everything they could but found nothing, the spokesman said.
“Unfortunately, whatever it was has now dissipated,” he said.
About 20,000 people, including travellers and those dropping off and picking up passengers, were disrupted by the closure, airport spokesman Geoffrey Conaghan said.
Metropolitan Ambulance Service spokesman James Howe said 47 people were taken to a specially configured response unit at the Northern Hospital, while 10 others were treated at the scene.
MAS operations manager Paul Holman said 17 ambulances ferried the sick, with many suffering vomiting, nausea, tightness in the throat and shortness of breath.
“They were certainly quite distressed … so whatever substance this has been has certainly caused a physiological response”, Mr Holman said.
First reports of people made ill by the leak began about 8am and the terminal was evacuated about 10am, forcing the evacuation of up to 2000 people to an area between the terminal and the car park.