Passengers aboard Singapore Airlines (SIA) Flight SQ833, destined for Singapore from Shanghai, experienced an unexpected ordeal on Wednesday when they were confined to the aircraft for nearly eight hours due to a technical issue.
The flight, originally scheduled to depart from Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 4:50 pm on Wednesday, encountered problems while still on the ground, causing significant delays.
According to an SIA spokesman, the Airbus A380 faced technical difficulties while on the ground in Shanghai. In response to inquiries, the spokesperson explained, “The aircraft returned to the bay, and engineers were brought on-site to try to rectify the issue. For safety reasons, the ground power had to be disabled while the checks were going on.”
Passengers on board were provided with meals and refreshments during this time, and ground staff were present to assist them. However, as the technical issues persisted, the airline eventually decided to cancel the flight. Passengers disembarked from the aircraft at 12:30 am, and arrangements were made for hotel accommodations.
The spokesman further elaborated, “All affected customers were rebooked on other flights (on Thursday) and have since departed Shanghai.”
The decision to keep passengers on board was initially made in the hope that the technical problems could be resolved swiftly. Regrettably, the issue persisted throughout the evening, ultimately leading to the flight’s cancellation.
Singapore Airlines acknowledged the inconvenience faced by passengers and issued an apology, with a promise to review their procedures to prevent similar incidents in the future.
One of the passengers, Mr. Chee Yang, recounted the experience, stating that the plane had already begun gaining speed on the runway before it suddenly braked. The aircraft then made a U-turn and returned to the boarding area, where passengers were asked to wait for the engineers to diagnose the problem.
Mr. Chee, a 32-year-old port operation executive, told Straits Times that passengers endured uncomfortable conditions without air conditioning, as the engine was turned off twice.
“The captain said there was a technical error and was waiting for the engineer to diagnose (the problem),” he said.
“The captain asked us to wait for 30 minutes, and then one hour. The engine was turned off twice. Without air conditioning, everyone was so hot in there. It was lucky no one fainted.”
After disembarking the plane, passengers were provided with hotel accommodations for the night, although it was well past 3am by the time Mr. Chee and his wife reached their hotel. The airline subsequently rebooked affected passengers on the same flight for the following day, causing an unexpected extension of their travel plans and inconveniences.
“They rebooked us on the same flight on the next day,” said Mr Chee, who added that he was informed of the new flight arrangements via an e-mail sent around 4am. “We had to waste another one day of leave on this.”