A Hong Kong-bound flight from Newark was forced to make an emergency diversion to Canadian Forces Goose Bay when a passenger fell ill. However, due to a technical issue with a door of the aircraft, the 777 was unable to continue its journey to Hong Kong, leaving passengers stranded on the tarmac for a total of 17 hours.
Passengers on a Hong Kong-bound United Airlines flight from Newark found themselves stranded at a Canadian airfield this weekend, The Independent reports. The incident involved United Airlines Flight 179, which departed from New Jersey on Saturday afternoon but was diverted approximately three-a-half hours into the journey after a passenger fell ill.
The plane made an emergency landing at Canadian Forces Goose Bay (YYR), which is operated by the nation’s air force.
The outlet reports that the ill passenger was taken off of the aircraft and that the Boeing 777 was refueled. However, a mechanical problem with the one of the plane’s doors meant that the craft was unable to continue its journey.
Offering his eyewitness account to the outlet, passenger Chris Liew explained that, though a mechanic had been summoned to fix the problem, “it couldn’t be fixed and the pilots began working with their operations center for a new plan, essentially involving a replacement aircraft that either took us back to Newark or on to Hong Kong or some intermediate airport closer to Hong Kong.”
“All that time, one aircraft door was open and it was -4F (-20C) outside. The aircraft was adequately warm for those of us sitting away from the open door. Some unfortunate flight attendant was posted at the door for safety and security, I suppose,” he added.
As the delay went on, passengers became understandably frustrated with the situation, which resulted in passengers being stranded for 16 hours. It is reported that no refreshments were served until around hour 12 of the diversion.
Seeking an outlet, one traveler even created a Twitter account for the diverted flight.
Passengers were unable to officially enter Canada because no border staff were on duty.
In a tweet, passenger Rose Kazan criticized the carrier, saying, “This is so incredibly bad. UA, this is the all time worst customer experience I have ever had. Shame on you.”
A replacement craft was eventually dispatched to rescue the stranded passengers, who returned to Newark 26 hours after they had first departed the city.
United has apologized for the incident.