Passengers on a recent United flight were left sleeping on the airport floor after their flight was diverted due to one unruly traveler.
Well-behaved passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 971, bound from Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO) to O’Hare International Airport (ORD), spent the night at Belfast International Airport (BFS) Saturday thanks to an out-of-control passenger who prompted a flight diversion. Unfortunately for the 269 passengers who were not being disruptive on the Boeing 777, by the time the offloading of the unruly passenger was complete, the flight crew had exceeded their maximum hours without rest and could not take off until the following day.
The Chicago Tribune reports that due to a shortage in available hotel space, passengers were forced to spend the night in BFS. Airport authorities called in additional staff and opened two rooms for the displaced travelers, providing them with blankets and water. Although the situation was less than ideal for those involved, most of whom were left sleeping on the floor, BFS officials say the passengers were “remarkably calm and understanding.”
Even though it was a single unruly passenger — an unnamed 42-year-old man with dual American and Italian citizenship — who was ultimately responsible for the incident, United taken responsibility for the unorthodox delay.
“We understand the inconvenience this causes our customers and will refund their Rome to Chicago flight as well as offer the choice of a travel certificate or miles for our MileagePlus loyalty program,” United said in a statement.
After a 21-hour delay, UA971 resumed its journey to ORD Sunday morning with a well-rested crew. The unruly passenger who caused the whole mess, however, was not onboard. He instead spent a little more time in Northern Ireland, in custody, awaiting his Monday appearance at the Coleraine Magistrates Court.
[Photos: Twitter via @MTRafferty; Chicago Tribune via WGN-TV]