EIGHTY-NINE people missed their flights home from Gladstone yesterday.
A late boat bringing participants back from the Ocean Swim at Heron Island forced many to spend hours in the airport, instead of at home.
And despite arriving at the airport before two planes left the tarmac, passengers were not allowed to board.
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Greer Banyer said she "couldn't understand why we didn't get on our flights".
"Our flight sat there for a good 20 minutes and it must have been half empty."
Her friend Charlotte Penrose, from Sydney, was concerned about her family.
"My two children will be crying their eyes out," Mrs Penrose said.
"Their father won't be happy."
Mrs Penrose said she had planned to return next year but was now reconsidering.
Qantas and Virgin airline spokespeople confirmed all passengers had been allocated to other flights, but the delay meant all other flights ran behind time.
The regional general manager for Heron Island resort, Ross Greenaway, said the ferry had been an additional service for participants of the Ocean Swim.
"Due to the large numbers involved, and baggage containers... this service sailed 25 minutes behind schedule," he said.
He said his staff had kept the airlines updated throughout the morning.