A United Airlines plane full of passengers was marooned on a runway in Canada for more than 14 hours after its doors froze shut in -20 degree weather, while travelers complained about running out of food.
The United flight bound for Hong Kong departed from Newark, New Jersey, on Saturday at its scheduled 3.05pm departure time, but about five and a half hours into the flight, it was rerouted to Goose Bay Airport in Newfoundland, Canada, after someone on board had a medical emergency.
The plane then landed at the Canadian airport at 9.31pm, where the passenger was offloaded and taken to a local hospital, according to CNN.
Passenger Sonjay Dutt tweeted out this image of a United repair crew Sunday. He was among the 250 passengers stuck overnight on a United plane after it was stranded at an airport in Canada following a mechanical issue on Saturday
Passengers then expected the plane to depart from the airport and continue to Hong Kong, but a mechanical issue prevented the plane from taking off.
‘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,’ tweeted United flight 179 passenger Steven Lau.
Apparently one of the airplane’s doors had broken, stranding passengers on the plane while nighttime temperatures outside the plane dropped to -20 degrees.
Passengers were said to have been unable to deplane and head into the airport because there were no customs officers on duty overnight.
After being stuck on the plane for about 10 hours, passenger Sonjay Dutt — a prowrestler attempting to get to Macau — started tweeting at the official United Twitter handle, asking for help when the onboard food stores apparently started running out.
After being stranded on the plane for more than 10 hours, Dutt tweeted at United’s Twitter handle for help, saying the plane was running out of food and that it was freezing cold
It’s believed that the airplane’s door had malfunctioned due to the -20 degree weather
Dutt tweeted out this picture of the plane once he and other passengers were finally allowed off the plane and into the airport on Sunday morning
Dutt (pictured) chronicled his experience of being stuck on the United flight on Twitter
Passenger Cherie Martorona Neve posted a lengthy screed about her experience on Facebook after being stuck on the plane for 15 hours
‘A medical emergency rerouted my plane. Landing in Goose Bay, Canada, where it’s -20. A door broke, can’t fix and awaiting rescue for the last 10 hours as I sit in this place on a runway in middle of nothing Canada. We need help @united,’ Dutt tweeted in the wee hours of the night Sunday.
He then tweeted, ‘Please help us. This is an emergency @united. People are not doing well. Running low on food.’
And added, ‘It’s freezing, not safe for children and elderly. Please help @united.’
About three hours later, Dutt tweeted that Goose Bay Airport officials had arrived at the plane to distribute food from Tim Horton and water to the passengers.
Then, at about 7am, Lau tweeted that passengers were allowed to get off the plane in groups of 15 to 20 to stretch their legs inside the terminal.
At about 8.30am, Lau was back aboard the plane and tweeting out pictures of United Tech Ops employees working on fixing the right wing emergency exit door.
Lau then tweeted that at about 9.15am, passengers were being moved to a ‘rescue’ plane which would take everyone back to Newark Airport, from whence they came.
Lau told CNN that after nearly 24 hours since departing from Newark passengers were ‘feeling restless and frustrated’ and noted that some people had decided to cancel their trip to Hong Kong.
‘We apologize to our customers and our crew is doing everything possible to assist them during the delay,’ a United spokesperson told CNN.
The rescue plane landed at Newark at about 6pm on Sunday, according to Dutt, about 27 hours after the passengers had initially departed from the airport.
One passenger, Cherie Martorana Neve, vented about her experience on Facebook after 15 hours of being stuck, stating that ‘We’ve been stranded here due to GROSS mishandling of this situation by United Airlines. The entire way they have treated us from troubleshooting, communicating and actual treatment (or lack of) by most of the flight attendants has been not only unprofessional, but downright DISGUSTING.’
She went on to say that United is ‘more like a prison’ than an airline, decried the fact that the airline seemingly didn’t have a contingency plan and posited about whether it was possible for passengers to take legal action over the ordeal.
CBC News reported that there were 250 passengers on the plane and that the airline believed that the extreme cold weather resulted in the mechanical malfunction, which prevented takeoff from the Canadian airport.