In a drastic measure to counter long-running industrial action, Qantas today grounded itself, cancelling all domestic and international flights from 5pm until further notice. What can you do if you're due to fly today or in the next week?
The disruption affects Qantas-branded flights, but not Jetstar, Qantaslink or Jetconnect. Qantas' site says that it will work with affected passengers to find accommodation and help with meal expenses. Customers who have flown to a destination and were due to return will be offered hotel rooms; those whose journeys start today need to try their own luck, but can hit up Qantas for refunds subsequently. In that scenario, expenses are capped at $350 a day, including meals. Passengers in a hotel provided by Qantas get $100 a day for meals, but again will have to pay upfront and claim afterwards.
If you haven't taken your flight yet, Qantas also says it will offer a full refund. However, given that its call centre will be swamped with irate customers, it is asking customers not to ring until 24 hours before their flight.
MORE: •Qantas Refund Grounding FAQ
Obviously, if you've got an imminent flight, you might well hit the web and seek an alternative carrier. That makes sense, but note that Qantas hasn't yet said it will reimburse those costs. You'll also be paying last-minute prices, even assuming you can find a seat.
This cancellation has impacted me personally — I was due to fly from Melbourne to Sydney on Sunday afternoon, something it seems safe to assume won't happen now. Under the circumstances, I consider myself lucky that I have friends I can stay with in Melbourne and that I managed to get a seat on the train back to Sydney for Monday. That's a super-slow option, but one that won't have been swamped quite as fast as flights on rival carriers. And at least I'm in locations connected by train, which isn't the case for many stranded travellers.
Been impacted by this drastic measure? Tell us your story in the comments. We'll update this post as new information comes to hand.
Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images: Flight screens at the Sydney Qantas Domestical Terminal on October 30, 2011.