Jetstar facing whopping hotel bill


Jetstar faces a hotel bill of more than $110,000 after 194 Australians spent four days stranded on the Thai island of Phuket.

A specially-chartered Jetstar aircraft this morning brought the passengers to Sydney Airport.

They were stranded on Phuket since Friday, when Thai demonstrators shut down the island’s airport as well as two others in the country’s south.

The airline now faces a $116,000 hotel bill after offering to reimburse all of the travellers’ hotel costs.

“We said stay in your hotel, and we’ll reimburse you up to $150 per night,” said Jetstar spokeswoman Simone Pregellio.

The plane touched down just before 8.45am, as anxious family and friends waited to greet the travellers.

Natalie Jones, the daughter of one of the passengers, received a text message from her mother, Barbara Jones, telling her the plane had landed and she was going through customs.

Ms Pregellio said some of the 263 passengers who were left without a flight home last Friday had chosen to make their own alternative routes back to Australia.

The returning travellers looked relaxed as they trickled through customs and out through arrivals.

Cronulla couple James and Amber Balafas, who were on a nine-day holiday, said they had a great time while stranded.

“We were hoping for two weeks and we got 12 days so that was good,” Mrs Balafas said.

The pair said they felt safe and informed at all times.

“We never felt threatened,” Mrs Balafas said.

“We were kept very well informed by the Jetstar website and we had letters delivered to our hotel door every couple of hours.”