United Airlines has refunded passengers on Saturday’s Flight 179 after the aircraft was forced to divert to a Canadian military base, leaving travelers to sit on the plane for more than 14 hours.
The flight had originally left New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport for Hong Kong but was forced to make an emergency landing at Goose Bay Airport in Newfoundland due to a medical emergency.
Upon landing, emergency personnel arrived to transport the passenger to a local hospital, but one of the plane’s emergency doors reportedly malfunctioned due to below-freezing temperatures and could not be fixed, according to WCBS.
Furthermore, passengers were instructed that they could not leave the aircraft as there were no customs officials on duty at the time of the plane’s landing.
The aircraft and its passengers remained on the tarmac at Goose Bay. United has said the plane had sufficient heat and power, though passengers on the flight had reported less-than-ideal conditions while waiting for a replacement aircraft.
“Please help us. This is an emergency @united. People are not doing well. Running low on food,” Sunjay Dutt, a passenger aboard the plane, tweeted on Sunday morning.
Dutt also claimed that Goose Bay staff brought them food and water from Tim Hortons a few hours later, and shortly afterward, passengers were allowed to go “stretch their legs” inside the customs area before being returned to the plane.
A passenger who spoke with The New York Post added that another flyer, who was traveling with a woman and a baby, became irate and needed to be calmed by the pilot.
Others, meanwhile, praised the staff as being “amazing” during the ordeal, with some acknowledging that the diversion was beyond the staff’s control.
“Clearly the pilots didn’t really know what was going on. They weren’t given a clear message, either, so it certainly wasn’t their fault,” said Alex Forshay, per WCBS.
Another United aircraft arrived to transport the passengers back to Newark on Sunday. A representative for the airline told the Post that travelers will be offered hotels and meals in addition to reimbursement.
“We apologize to our customers, and our crew is doing everything possible to assist them during the delay,” according to a United representative.