About a hundred Perth holidaymakers started the school holidays in Bali without their luggage on Saturday after their belongings were unloaded from the plane without their knowledge.
Air Asia flight QZ535’s 161passengers arrived at Denpasar Airport on Saturday afternoon to learn most of their luggage had been left in Perth, after the airline says it was forced to take it off to comply with weight restrictions shortly before take-off.
A statement from the airline said the plane took off from a shorter runway because the usual runway was closed for upgrade works.
An A320 aircraft typically requires a runway of 2400 metres to take off with a full payload in average conditions but shorter runway is only 2163m long.
“In order to account for weight restrictions, 104 pieces of check-in baggage was off-loaded from the aircraft prior to departure,” the statement read.
Passenger Dennis McDougall said there were no announcements on the flight and passengers only learned their belongings had not joined them on the flight when they watched only a handful of suitcases move around the luggage carousel at Denpasar Airport.
“We were watching them unload the plane before we boarded but we assumed that it was from the flight that just landed. They could have said in Perth what was happening but they said nothing,” Mr McDougall said.
“My first thoughts were with the other passengers who had very young children and they had no luggage at all for their holidays.”
Mr McDougall, who travelled with his wife and two children, said his wife’s suitcase was one of the few which arrived on the plane but many passengers were forced to spend the night with only the clothes on their backs and their hand luggage contents.
After departing in overcast conditions, many had boarded the flight dressed in warm clothes and arrived in Indonesia to 30 degrees celsius heat.
A lost and found queue at Denpasar Airport shows dozens of passengers waiting for news on their missing luggage, many with small children.
“The staff were polite but little they could do other than take names and addresses… there were two people that needed their medication that night,” Mr McDougall said.
Air Asia said the luggage was loaded on to a flight from Perth at 5.10pm on Saturday. Passengers reported having their luggage returned about midday yesterday, almost 24 hours after they arrived in Bali.
Mr McDougall said passengers had not been compensated.