MORE than 30 Tongan nationals who reside in the mainland United States and Hawaii have been stranded in Nadi for the past few days following the cancellation of their connecting Air Pacific flight to Tonga on Tuesday afternoon.
The normally friendly islanders were disappointed when they were informed that apart from flight disruptions and no assistance for accommodation and meals, they had also incurred fines from Air Pacific for rescheduling flights despite the fact that delays at Los Angeles and unforeseen weather changes were not their fault.
Parents are concerned about children who have lost 10 days of school because of flight disruptions and one couple is frustrated that a burial service is being postponed simply because of the flight disruptions.
The irate passengers who arrived from LA and Honolulu last Saturday and Monday and were booked to travel to Tonga on an Air Pacific flight on Tuesday have had to pay for their meals and accommodation.
This after they were told by airline staff at the Nadi International Airport that inclement weather meant Air Pacific was not responsible for their unplanned stay in Fiji.
One of the affected passengers from LA, Salesi Fonua and his seven-month-old daughter Nikolyna were scheduled to arrive in Nuku'alofa on Tuesday night but were told that their flight had been cancelled.
According to Mr Fonua, his flight from LA had been delayed for unknown reasons and because of that, he missed his connecting flight that left for the Tongan capital last Saturday.
"My daughter and I were supposed to be on that flight but because of that delay, we missed it," Mr Fonua said.
Mr Fonua said he then had to pay for a room at the TransInternational Hotel and rescheduled his flight for Tuesday.
However, that did not happen because of a cyclone warning alert that forced the airline to cancel the scheduled flight to Tonga.
"I'm here with my seven-month-old daughter and I have to make sure that she is fed and taken care of. Another reason for my coming to Tonga is because I have to meet with the US Counsellor in Tonga for my son's passport," he explained.
Mr Fonua said his six-year-old son's passport would expire in a month's time and this was his only opportunity to meet with the counsellor and renew his son's papers.
"The counsellor will be in Tonga for only five days and the way things are going, I don't think I'll be able to make it in time," said the father of seven.
Mr Fonua was also fined by the airline."They fined me $US186 f($FJ327) or changing my flight schedules to Tonga even though all the rescheduling of flights was not my fault," he said.
Another passenger Hopoate Folau with his wife Anna are to attend his father-in-law's funeral.
Concerned parents Kingsley and Suzie Toloke said their eight-year-old son missed out on school.
"His missed out on 10 days of school because of the delay and some of the kids here are getting sick because of the sudden change in weather," Mrs Toloke said.
The disruptions come in light of a special weather bulletin for a cyclone alert for Tonga issued on Sunday by the Fiji Meteorological Service.
The weather office said the cyclone alert was lifted on Wednesday.
The upset passengers alerted The Fiji Times to convey their concerns at the way there are being treated by Air Pacific.
Air Pacific spokesman Shane Hussein said passengers whose flight to Tonga was disrupted becasue of adverse weather conditions would be accommodated on their next flight on Saturday.
"Unfortunately, passengers meals, and accommodation are not covered for flights that are disrupted due to adverse weather conditions or other events beyond our control," he said.
"It's for this reason passengers are encouraged to buy travel insurance for themselves."