A United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Sydney made an emergency landing in American Samoa on New Year’s Eve
United Airline passengers were forced to drink beers on a deserted beach in American Samoa on New Year’s Eve after their plane made an emergency landing.
Travelers flying from LA to Sydney had to stop at the chain of islands between Hawaii and New Zealand for 21 hours – and they were reportedly given a tour of the island and enjoyed a fast food feast from McDonald’s.
More than 300 United Airlines passengers spent the New Year on the scenic island of Tutuila – where their pilot reportedly bought them syringes to keep spirits high.
The plane, identified as United Flight 839, landed at Pago Pago Airport around midnight on Friday but was diverted to the islands, which are an American territory, at 6:22 a.m. Friday due to a mechanical problem, flight officials said.
Passengers (pictured at Pago Pago Airport on Saturday) had to spend almost a full day on the remote island between Hawaii and New Zealand
More than 300 travelers were stuck in the picturesque Pago Pago (pictured), where passengers spent 21 hours taking a tour of the island, drinking beer and eating fast food
“Today’s flight was diverted to Pago Pago to fix a mechanical problem,” the airline said in a statement on Friday.
“We are using our facilities, including available hotel options, to accommodate our customers and will be flying to the island on a new aircraft so they can complete their trip to Sydney soon.”
Stranded in what most would consider paradise, passengers on the wayward flight reportedly found themselves without food when they landed in Pago Pago, the island’s capital of Tutuila.
Passengers’ relatives were quick to tweet to provide real-time updates on the situation, with many saying those on board were being looked after by locals, who thankfully gave travelers a warm welcome.
Eventually, a crew led by United Airlines South Pacific Regional Manager Susan Lilley (second from right) made it to the island to end the traveler’s ordeal, sharing several photos of the “rescue” along the way.
Passengers’ relatives were quick to tweet to provide real-time updates on the situation, with many saying those on board were being looked after by locals, who thankfully gave travelers a warm welcome. However, some blamed United for allowing the incident to happen
“My daughter is now stranded,” one man wrote at 7:22 p.m. Saturday, 13 hours after the strange flying saga began. “They (passengers) showered at the hangar, got (a) tour of the island and (drank) beers on the deserted beach.”
A few hours earlier, a woman had written that her family – including her young granddaughters – had also flown. She also said the Samoan people would help the passengers, but questioned why the airline isn’t the one dealing with the problem.
She added that a replacement flight is expected in the early hours of New Year’s Day – meaning passengers would still miss the world-famous fireworks celebrations off 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 said the Samoan people (sic) have been incredibly generous (as they always are) and everyone is being looked after before their flight tomorrow morning.”
Tagging United at her post, the concerned mum asked the airline: “Why the silence?”
Another added that she also heard from a family member on the plane that local people as well as the flight crew were helping out the passengers.
“My daughter was on the flight too, she said the islanders and crew were great at looking after everyone. Thank God everyone is safe.’
As the traveler’s woes unfolded in real time, relatives continued to shed new light on the strange incident, including how the plane was forced to spend hours circling the runway early Friday before landing because the runway was not enough lights for the plane – a Boeing 787 – to land safely.
The situation was made even more dangerous by the fact that the runway at Pago Pago International Airport, also known as Tafuna Airport, is only 10,000 feet long – just 1,000 feet more than the 10,000 feet required to receive such a large aircraft.
The father of a stranded passenger was quick to point this out.
“I’m grateful the runway is getting 10,000 as their Boeing 787 needs 9,000 feet,” he wrote around 7:30 p.m. Saturday — still more than seven hours before a lifeboat was chartered to rescue the group.
This was revealed by another parent of a passenger the plane had to be grounded because it “lost one of its two engines” and that “the plane had to circle Pago Pago until daylight for an hour because the 10,000-foot runway has no lights.”
“They had to circumnavigate the island by sunrise,” he wrote. “We are blessed and the pilots and crew handled the situation well. The children and passengers were well looked after by the islanders.’
He later reported that his daughter had a “quite an adventurous day” on the flight and was given “a tour of the island” and footage courtesy of one of the plane’s pilots.
Eventually, a crew led by United Airlines South Pacific Regional Manager Susan Lilley made it to the island to end the traveler’s ordeal, sharing several photos of the “rescue” along the way.
“What a privilege to be part of the rescue flight to bring customers to SYD who were diverted to PagoPago,” Lilley wrote late on New Year’s Eve. She went on to thank the “amazing airport ground crew 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 a refund for their unexpected 21-hour stay
However, a photo of passengers seated in the terminal awaiting the late night flight appeared to show they were less than impressed with their 21-hour detour 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 official said.
“We used our facilities, including available hotel options, to accommodate our clients and flew to the island on a new aircraft so they could complete their trip to Sydney.”
The airline did not comment on whether travelers would receive refunds for their unexpected New Year’s Eve layover.
Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa, located approximately 2,573 miles from Hawaii, in the heart of Polynesia.
Located in the South Pacific, it is an unincorporated US territory, making it a popular destination for those seeking a passport-less tropical island getaway.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11592163/United-Airlines-plane-LA-Sydney-emergency-landing-American-Samoa-New-Years-Eve.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 A United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Sydney made an emergency landing in American Samoa on New Year’s Eve