United Airlines passengers were forced to spend New Year’s Eve drinking beer on a deserted beach in American Samoa after their flight made an emergency landing.
The travelers, who were flying from Los Angeles to Sydney, were forced to stop at the island chain between Hawaii and New Zealand for 21 hours – and allegedly received a tour of the island and enjoyed a feast of McDonald’s fast food.
More than 300 United Airlines passengers spent the new year on the picturesque island of Tutuila, where their pilot reportedly bought them drinks to keep their spirits up.
The plane, identified as United Flight 839, landed at the Pago Pago airport around midnight Friday but was redirected to the islands, which are US territory, at 6:22 a.m. Friday due to a mechanical problem. , flight officials said.
The passengers (pictured Saturday at the Pago Pago airport) were forced to spend almost a full day on the remote island, located between Hawaii and New Zealand.
More than 300 travelers were stranded in picturesque Pago Pago (pictured), where passengers spent 21 hours touring the island, drinking beers and eating fast food.
“Today’s flight was diverted to Pago Pago to fix a mechanical problem,” read a statement from the airline on Friday.
“We are making use of our facilities, including available hotel options, to accommodate our clients, and will be flying a new plane to the island so they can finish their trip to Sydney soon.”
Stranded in an environment that most would consider paradise, the passengers of the wayward flight found themselves without food upon landing in Pago Pago, the capital of the island of Tutuila.
Family members of the passengers were quick to take to Twitter to report in real time on the situation, with many saying the locals were looking after the passengers on board who thankfully welcomed the travelers kindly.
Finally, a team led by United Airlines South Pacific Regional Manager Susan Lilley (second from right) arrived on the island to end the traveler’s ordeal, sharing several “rescue” photos in the process.
Family members of the passengers were quick to take to Twitter to report in real time on the situation, with many saying the locals were looking after the passengers on board who thankfully welcomed the travelers kindly. Some, however, criticized United for allowing the incident to take place.
“My daughter is now stranded,” one man wrote at 7:22 p.m. Saturday, 13 hours after the bizarre flight saga. “They (the passengers) showered in the hangar, took (a) tour of the island and (are) drinking beers on a deserted beach.”
A few hours earlier, a woman wrote that her family, including her young granddaughters, had also been on the flight. She also said that the people of Samoa were helping the passengers, but she questioned why the airline was not the one to address the issue.
He added that a replacement flight was expected in the early hours of New Year’s Day, meaning passengers would still miss the famous fireworks celebrations in Sydney Harbour.
“My son and granddaughters were on that flight,” the woman wrote at 4:42 p.m. Friday.
“I just spoke to him and he told me that the Samoan (sic) people have been incredibly generous (as they always are) and that everyone is being taken care of before their early flight tomorrow morning.”
The concerned mom proceeded to tag United in her post, asking the airline, “Why the silence?”
Someone else added that they had also heard from a family member on the plane that the native population, as well as the flight crew, were helping the passengers.
‘My daughter was also on the flight, she said the islanders and crew were amazing in taking care of everyone. Thank God everyone is safe.
As the traveler’s troubles unfolded in real time, the relatives continued to shed new light on the bizarre incident, including how the plane was forced to spend hours circling the runway early Friday before landing because the runway was not open. it had enough lights for the ship. a Boeing 787 – to land safely.
The danger of the situation was further increased by the fact that the runway at Pago Pago International Airport, also known as Tafuna Airport, is only 10,000 feet, just 1,000 feet more than the 10,000 feet needed to receive such a large aircraft.
The father of a stranded passenger was quick to point it out.
“I’m grateful the runway is 10,000 feet as your Boeing 787 needs 9,000 feet,” he wrote around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, still more than seven hours before a rescue craft was chartered to rescue the man. cluster.
Another parent of a passenger revealed that the plane had been grounded because it had ‘lost one of its two engines’ and that ‘the plane had to circle around Pago Pago for an hour, until dawn, as the 10,000 foot runway has no lights.
“They had to go around the island until dawn,” he wrote. “We are blessed and the pilots and crew navigated the situation well. Children and passengers were well cared for by the islanders.
He later reported that his daughter on the flight had “quite an adventurous day,” receiving “a tour of the island,” as well as footage courtesy of one of the plane’s pilots.
Finally, a team led by United Airlines South Pacific Regional Manager Susan Lilley arrived on the island to end the traveler’s ordeal, sharing several “rescue” photos in the process.
“What a privilege to be a part of the rescue flight to bring diverted SYD customers to PagoPago,” Lilley wrote late on New Year’s Eve. She went on to thank the “incredible airport ground staff who turned the situation into a memorable adventure with heartwarming hospitality.”
Passengers spent 21 hours waiting for this United Airlines replacement plane, pictured in Pago Pago late on New Year’s Eve.
The airline did not comment on whether travelers would receive refunds for their unexpected 21-hour layover.
However, a photo of passengers sitting in the terminal waiting to board the overnight flight seemed to show they were less than impressed with their 21-hour diversion and subsequent rescue.
United confirmed that the approximately 325 passengers finally arrived in Sydney on Sunday.
Flight 839 was diverted to Pago Pago, American Samoa, to fix a mechanical problem, an airline representative said.
“We made use of our facilities, including available hotel options, to accommodate our clients and flew a new plane to the island so they could finish their trip to Sydney.”
The airline did not comment on whether travelers would receive refunds for their unexpected New Year’s Eve layover.
About 2,573 miles from Hawaii, Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa, located in the heart of Polynesia.
Located in the South Pacific, it is an unincorporated US territory, making it a popular destination for those looking for a passport-free getaway to a tropical island.