Flights from Newark to Hong Kong are usually hellish just because of the whole spending-16-hours-crammed-into-a-flying-sardine-can thing, but passengers on one United Airlines flight entered a whole other circle of hell when their flight was rerouted and forced to sit on a Canadian runway for more than 14 hours.
US and Canadian news sources report that the flight was initially diverted to the Goose Bay Airport, in frigid Newfoundland, thanks to a medical emergency that saw a passenger taken off the plane and to a local hospital.
However, before the flight could take off again, it experienced a mechanical issue with its door, which is when the real ordeal began.
Four @united tech ops workers trying to fix the right wing emergency exit door of #UA179. A planeful of people is hoping they have better luck than the last set of mechanics and pilots who tried hours ago @United_179 pic.twitter.com/PlC41Rh7qp
— Steven Lau (@unoslau) January 20, 2019
With temperatures outside falling to as low as -28 degrees Celsius, passengers had to remain on board the plane because there were no customs officials at the Goose Bay Airport overnight. What’s more, many started tweeting at United in desperation as their food supplies dwindled.
(Thankfully, salvation ultimately came in the form of local Goose Bay officials, who turned up in the morning bearing coffee and doughnuts from the iconic Canadian chain Tim Horton’s.)
After United technicians finally decided to throw in the towel on fixing the door, passengers were allowed to get off of the plane and board a food-laden “rescue plane” headed — you guessed it! — back to Newark.
Finally got off plane, got on a bus and now waiting to be taken to new rescue plane to fly back to Newark. 16hours since we landed in Goose Bay. pic.twitter.com/nBb0zKwOba
— SONJAY (@sonjaydutterson) January 20, 2019
However, any relief they may have felt was likely tempered by stepping into what one passenger, Sonjay Dutt, described as the “most painful, blistering cold ever.”
And in what must have felt like a particularly stinging slap in the face, even after reaching Newark more than 24 hours after first taking off, Dutt found his ordeal wasn’t over.
How about this? Since there is no way to make it to Macau for EWE on Tuesday, I’m trying to get a flight home and my flight home is delayed. Yeesh.
— SONJAY (@sonjaydutterson) January 21, 2019
Yeesh, indeed, Sonjay. Yeesh, indeed.