By Sarah Robson for RNZ
As Hong Kong airport faces a second day of major disruption, a New Zealander caught up in the flight delays says travellers aren’t blaming the anti-government protesters.
Hundreds of flights have been cancelled over the last two days after anti-government protesters gathered in the terminal. The airport, which is one of the world’s busiest, has been the site of daily protests since Friday.
Britt Carroll was meant to fly to Melbourne on Monday night, but her flight was cancelled and she’s now scheduled to depart tonight.
While the delays had been frustrating, she said travellers weren’t blaming the protesters.
“Travellers seem to understand why it’s happening and they’re not really holding too much of a grudge against them – it’s more the response from the government and the airlines and the airport that’s frustrating at this point,” she said.
Carroll said she was at the airport express train terminal in the city when she first heard about Monday’s flight disruptions.
“The departure board was just cancelled, cancelled, cancelled, until 8pm, then they just turned the boards off.
“No one really knew if flights after that had been cancelled, if they just turned it off because there was no news and everyone was just advised to contact their airline.”
Carroll said there was no announcement that all flights had been cancelled and there were a lot of people waiting for more information, or calling their airlines.
She said Qantas has told her it will reimburse her for the extra two nights’ accommodation she’s had to pay for because of the delays.
Meanwhile, House of Travel said people travelling to Hong Kong should keep in close contact with their travel agent and airline in case of further disruptions.
Commercial director Brent Thomas said as well as being a popular destination in itself, Hong Kong is a busy transit stop for people heading to and from Europe.
He said the situation in Hong Kong was fluid and things could change quickly – especially in terms of flights.
“The issue of course is if there are disruptions and further disruptions, then there becomes a backlog to clear and that takes some time, as we know from other incidents around the world.”
Travel insurance should cover any reasonable costs if people do get stuck in Hong Kong – as long as the insurance was taken out before the airport protests began, Thomas said.
Some airlines have also been flexible and changing flights at no extra cost, he said.
And depending on the airline, Thomas said people may be able to change the route they’re flying, so they stop somewhere other than Hong Kong.
Air New Zealand had to cancel two flights because of the airport protests – its Monday night flight to Hong Kong from Auckland, and the return flight on Tuesday.
A Cathay Pacific flight arrived in Auckland from Hong Kong on Tuesday afternoon and one departed.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is advising people travelling to Hong Kong to exercise increased caution as a result of the protests.
The Safe Travel website advises New Zealanders to avoid all protests and demonstrations, as even those intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn violent with little or no warning.
Travellers are also advised to monitor local media for developments and comply with any instructions and restrictions issued by the local authorities. Road closures and disruptions to public transport as a result of demonstrations should also be expected.