Train robbery: Melbourne couple’s flight delay leaves them destitute, homeless

Written by Staff Writer at CNN Their flight to Melbourne was delayed more than 14 hours after thunderstorms canceled most flights out of Melbourne Airport. After finally taking off, they arrived at the wrong…

Train robbery: Melbourne couple's flight delay leaves them destitute, homeless

Written by Staff Writer at CNN

Their flight to Melbourne was delayed more than 14 hours after thunderstorms canceled most flights out of Melbourne Airport. After finally taking off, they arrived at the wrong terminal before a series of technical issues prevented them from setting foot in the airport.

In the next 24 hours, they were also barred from buying airline tickets by security agents who seized their bags. After 50 minutes in security lines with no answers, they went to a crowd outside the airport in an effort to get somewhere to sleep. But by daybreak, a small crowd had swelled into a 30-strong crowd of anxious passengers, at the edge of the airport. As the temperature rose past 40 degrees Celsius, frustrated passengers began to set the chairs on fire outside a metal gate.

The group, however, had been warned of the risks.

“It was a terrible decision to try and stage something, I have never been anywhere like it before,” said the flight’s captain.

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Thunderstorms and ‘downman’s flip’

Flights were diverted to Brisbane, Perth and Auckland before they finally reached their final destination in Melbourne. They had racked up more than 14 hours in the air on packed planes before arriving late on Saturday night. As if that weren’t enough, the couple were then confronted with problems at the terminal. Flight crew hadn’t signed off their bags, meaning they wouldn’t be allowed to get on their flight. Security stopped them from buying any more airline tickets.

But after a few hours there, the situation began to look more hopeful. They would be allowed to board anyway. A member of the ground staff offered the couple extra food and water, and at around 2 p.m., they were permitted to leave the terminal. They are now staying at a hotel.

The sun finally came out the following morning, and they managed to catch a flight to Frankfurt before continuing on to Rome.

The story of journey that’s brought them together

Those three days have left a deep impression on the couple, who arrived in their respective countries this week in the hopes of becoming official husband and wife. They spoke to CNN by phone about their days off from work and their possible wedding.

“It was just a random thing, she has a strong spirit,” said the pilot, despite missing a week of work due to the delay. “She is very cheerful, she was laughing. In the end she was nice to everyone.”

He called her “very smart,” and credited her with getting him through what had been a tough week.

While she was equally moved by the experience, she had to reach Australia by rail rather than plane, and was therefore forced to buy train tickets by himself.

The ground staff in Brisbane had been particularly kind to the couple, she said. “All they did was shut off the tannoy and just smile and did their best,” she said.

She hopes to invite the plane’s other passengers for her wedding.

“It’s been a very interesting experience. I don’t think you can ask for anything more than that,” he said.

“I feel like I have had the best year so far.”

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