Anger at Chek Lap Kok as passengers stranded by Typhoon Usagi
Hundreds of angry travellers blame airlines for keeping them in the dark about flights as they spend night at Chek Lap Kok
Phila Siu, Tanna Chong and Ng Kang-chung
Frustrated air travellers spent the night at Chek Lap Kok airport last night after flights were cancelled or delayed.
Some angry passengers blamed airlines for keeping them in the dark about flight schedules after braving winds and heavy rain to reach the airport, only to learn of cancellations or delays.
As the city battened down its hatches and came to a standstill, hundreds were stranded in the departure hall after more than 446 flights were affected by Severe Typhoon Usagi.
It also prevented hundreds of holidaymakers on package tours from returning home.
The Travel Industry Council said it had not received any requests for help from agencies. Its executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung said it could take two days for agencies to bring back all those stranded overseas.
At Chek Lap Kok, 177 arriving flights had been cancelled, while 193 departures were cancelled. A total of 76 flights were also delayed.
Airline counters and information boards were swamped by miserable passengers who flocked around to check updated schedules.
Philip Rubin, 28, who flew in from Chongqing to take an Air China flight back to London, said he only learned that his flight was cancelled when he arrived in Hong Kong.
"The airline should have sent us an e-mail about it," complained Rubin, as he waited at the airline counter with 100 others to see if they could take another flight. He was supposed to be back at work today.
Taiwanese traveller Angela Yang, 30, said she had been kept waiting at the airport for the whole day.
"We arrived early because we were hoping that we could take another flight back to Taiwan. But a lot of people arrived even earlier," said Yang, who was issued chip No 535 for a standby ticket.
"The airline staff just asked me to wait here. They couldn't guarantee anything."
Guy Le Claire's Hong Kong Airlines flight was supposed to take off for Bali, Indonesia, at noon.
He said he checked the airline's website before leaving home and it said the flight would leave on schedule.
"When I came here, I checked the airline's board and it still said it would be leaving on time. But the counter staff said it had been delayed until 4.15pm," Le Claire said.
"I would have appreciated it if they'd simply put up a notice on the website."
Meanwhile, hundreds of Hong Kong travellers on package tours found themselves stranded overseas.
EGL Tours had 300 customers on 10 package tours stranded in Japan, Taiwan or South Korea.
A spokesman said it hoped to get them back to Hong Kong today or tomorrow.
Sunflower Travel had 10 tours stranded overseas, including four in Taiwan. About 300 people were affected.
Wing On Travel had a tour with 29 members stranded in Japan.
The local travel industry had predicted a 10 per cent increase in business during the Mid-Autumn Festival long weekend.