A woman claims she was escorted into a police paddy wagon after she became stranded on-board a Jetstar flight with more than 300 passengers.
Flight JQ30 from Bangkok to Melbourne was forced to make an emergency landing in Alice Springs on Saturday night after a passenger had a suspected stroke.
An electrical fault on the aircraft combined with the airport’s incapacity to deal with international passengers resulted in passengers being left on the plane for close to double the intended flight time.
Nikki Mitropoulos said she was in immense pain during the seven-hour stopover on the airport tarmac because she had just undergone “tummy tuck” surgery.
“I said, ‘I suffer from anxiety, I’ve just had surgery and I’m really struggling here’,” Ms Mitropoulos told A Current Affair on Monday night.
She said the layover prevented her from taking antibiotics prescribed to prevent an infection after her operation
Ms Mitropoulos claims when she told the flight captain she was experiencing a panic attack and asked if she could leave the plane she was met with an uncaring response.
“He (the captain) said, ‘Nope, I’m going to make an example of you, you’re getting arrested’,” she said.
“That’s when I had a severe panic attack.”
She said she was taken off the aircraft with her friend Michelle, piled into a paddy wagon and driven to the police station.
Ms Mitropoulos said she was offered $200 credit from Jetstar, but that was not enough to convince her to fly with Jetstar again.
“We will never travel with Jetstar again, never,” she said.
A Jetstar spokesman said the airline had“zero tolerance for disruptive behaviour”.
“Our crew are there to ensure a safe and respectful environment for everyone,” the spokesman said.
“We have zero tolerance for disruptive behaviour.
“Any passenger who refuses to follow instructions or who is abusive will be removed from the flight.”
The spokesman thanked passengers for their understanding and apologised for the “difficult experience”.
“We appreciate this has been a lengthy delay and apologise to passengers for the difficult experience,” he said.
“We thank passengers for their patience and understanding as we supported the passenger requiring urgent medical assistance and worked to get everyone else on their way as quickly as possible.”
Passengers were given the option to disembark into a specially partitioned section of the airport and provided drinks and food.
The replacement aircraft arrived about 11 hours later, and the new flight landed in Melbourne just after 11pm on Monday.