Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Hong Kong found themselves stuck on a runway in Canada after their flight was forced to land for medical reasons and then the doors to the plane froze.
According to a CNN report, the United flight departed Newark as scheduled at 3.05pm EST on Saturday. But about five and a half hours into the flight, a passenger was taken ill on board, and the flight was rerouted to Goose Bay Airport in Newfoundland, Canada.
It landed in Canada at 9.31pm and the sick passenger was taken off and ferried to a nearby hospital. But that was when the problems began for the rest of the people on board. A mechanical issue with one of the plane’s doors meant that it was unable to take off again.
The right wing emergency door was believed to have been affected by the -20-degree temperatures outside and malfunctioned. However, because there were no customs officers on duty at the airport overnight, the passengers were unable to disembark and wait inside the airport building while repairs were carried out.
One passenger on the plane, Steven Lau, tweeted the scenes after a couple of hours sitting on the tarmac. He said, “Never a good sign for your flight when the plane has been sitting on the tarmac for 2+ hours and the pilots are in the cabin taking suggestions from nearby passengers about how to close/arm the emergency exit door.”
A little later on he added, “Also not a great sign when the mechanic who was called to fix the problem then gets on his phone to call for more support.”
Another passenger, Sonjay Dutt, a professional wrestler, who was trying to get to Macau for an EWE Wrestling event, began tweeting the official United Airlines handle after being trapped on the plane for about ten hours. He begged them to send help saying that food supplies onboard the plane were running short.
“Please help us. This is an emergency @united. People are not doing well. Running low on food,” he tweeted, before adding, “It’s freezing, not safe for children and elderly. Please help @united.”
After being trapped on board for around 12 hours, officials from Goose Bay Airport finally arrived on board. They distributed food from Tim Horton and water to the passengers and at around 7am, those on board were finally able to get off the plane in groups of 15 to 20 to go and stretch their legs inside the terminal.
United finally laid on a rescue plane to take those affected back to Newark, but that plane didn’t arrive back in New Jersey until 6pm on Sunday, a full 27 hours after the passengers had initially taken off.
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