A New Zealand couple have likened their experience on a Qantas flight to child abuse, after departure delays and problems with the airline's food service.
Duncan Kemsley, Heather Smith and their 11-month-old son, Jeremy Kemsley, were originally due to arrive back in Christchurch from Johannesburg, via Sydney, on Tuesday.
Instead, they ended up arriving home on Friday afternoon.
Qantas said an issue with its plane flying from Johannesburg to Christchurch was to blame and had apologised to passengers affected by the delay.
Kemsley said the family began the journey home on Monday night, but "about 10 seconds into the acceleration there was a big bang".
"We just taxied off and sat on the tarmac for about three hours waiting for something to happen.
"To be fair they did a really good job of booking people into hotels and that, it's a lot of passengers," Kemsley said.
Smith said their flight was rescheduled to leave Johannesburg at 11pm on Wednesday, but was delayed until 1am Thursday.
"We got in there and it was really, really hot in the plane.
"We actually had to strip the babies again and keep them cool. It's actually unsafe to have babies in that kind of heat," Smith said.
The aircon began leaking after the plane took off, with water "basically . . . pouring out of the ceiling".
"The aircon was all over the show. It was freezing."
Smith believed the whole situation had been handled poorly, especially when a lot of people were travelling with children.
"There was no food on that plane. Fifteen hours with no food," she said.
"My sister had a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old and they didn't feed them. They eventually gave them a cupcake.
"What really annoyed me is the business class people got a food service and there were a lot of kids in economy class that went 15 hours and they didn't feed them."
The experience would have been "funny" if they did not have a child with them, Smith said.
"With a baby it felt like child abuse."
In a statement, a Qantas spokesman said the airline did all it could to ensure the flight to Sydney was comfortable for passengers.
The flight was pushed back to allow necessary checks to be completed following a problem with the plane.
The spokesman said the air conditioning needed to be turned of while the new engine was fitted, but no passengers were on board at that time.
"The family's flight was delayed due to a problem with one of the aircraft's engines which was replaced in Johannesburg after a spare engine was flown over on another aircraft," he said.
He confirmed there were also issues with catering on the flight.
"Food and beverages were provided to customers throughout the entire flight but some economy meals were not loaded onto the aircraft due to a catering issue," the spokesman said.
"Such a lengthy delay is rare and we apologise for the inconvenience caused to those passengers."
The airline said it had been in touch with the family regarding the flight.