Unnecessarily Frightening Experience Airport Health & Safety Debacle Australia
a.m. Sunday 14 April 2019
0905-0910 a m Arrive Brisbane International Airport, Eagle Farm, Brisbane Australia on Virgin flight VA120 from Dunedin in New Zealand
Exited plane along with everyone else
0915 Picked up a couple of bottles of Baileys at Duty Free
Then walked on and head for the passport control. Initial alarm sounded about this same time
Alarms and audio messages that followed were spasmodic and unclear causing more uncertainty
Find the correct lane and insert my passport as were heaps of others in the slot to get my little multi coloured card confirming I am a fine upstanding person
More alarms and public announcement messages
I was expecting appointed and trained fire wardens to appear from everywhere and identify themselves with arm bands or similar and lead us all to safety
No such luck Just standing there idly waiting for the passport inserted in the slot to produce a little piece of coloured cardboard
Not sure if the alarm had frozen the card producing device or not No help forthcoming and only one uninformed visible female staff person off to my right
General uneasiness existed as we awaited help Everyone looking at each other with uncertainty
0925 a.m. Aussie woman called “Danielle” X in a Border Control uniform takes my mobile phone of me and requires me to delete one of the two the videos I taken. One in Duty Free and one outside of same. I took these on the matter of passenger safety. I took the videos to present to the appropriate authorities, so this never happens again
It was farcical that this level of behaviour existed in 2019
There was a Chinese airliner arriving at the same time and those passengers were milling around the entry to the lanes with the overhead signage to get to passport control
0929 Message over the loud speaker that a “sprinkler” pipe or head had been severed in “Zone 5” with a lady’s voice on more than one occasion
There were other messages telling us the leave the area including telling staff to leave as well. This to all intents and purposes appeared to happen. By this I mean the staff!
Overhead someone say “go through” the “grey double doors” back the way we had come but people were reluctant so when I did push the doors open and leave the main hall into the corridor there was no one there and no signage to say the fire exits were to the right or the left More confusion
More confusion as most people headed left. All that eventually achieved was another pointless circuit back through the Duty Free to which we were again welcomed by the numerous awaiting retail staff The alarm would have been audible to this area as well!
A tall swarvy gent of normal build about 45 – 50 with an accent who looked completely at ease as did his staff and was making no effort to leave audible re-welcomed us Perhaps he was expecting more sales?
During this circular traipse and before re-entering Duty Free I did ask a uniformed lady, whom looked Indian about 30 years of age with long hair to me, who was alighting from the stairwell from the ground level which could have been used to get us all to safety, where to go and she pointed me in the direction of the Duty Free store. She was in the company of a stout European uniformed male about 35 to 50 years of age. This being the very same direction those ahead of me were heading
So, we all walked back out into the same Passport entry control area via the Duty-Free area having walked in a needless oval
0934 a m Seemed far from certain that anyone was in charge but blokes in uniforms started to appear and looked like Police officers
0942 a m Staff told to re-enter level one but us the passenger never left!! Most of us but note, not all, had walked around in a needless circle at time of risk while in the care of an immense and legislatively required Health & Safety system. Well supposedly so?
Whilst we were waiting at the number “2” baggage carousel upon which rested an initial few items of baggage the loud speaker lady apologised twice on behalf of Virgin Airlines and the Chinese Airlines which is demonstrably improvable as it was the airports fault not the airline
Another example of let’s do nothing and then when we do, we place the blame on someone else Again demonstrably improvable
As I said to Danielle I could have been burnt to death while the staff rested in total safety elsewhere!!
Gordon J Dickson AAMINZ, MNZIQS
260 Pohutukawa Avenue, Ohope Beach, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
This is written on the morning of the 16th from the notes I took at the time and my recollection
E & O. E.