Travel News

Travel Agony: These Passengers Were Stuck on a Runway Over 15 Hours!

45 United Miles Per Dollar
Written by Charlie

Flying for 16 hours is one thing, but can you imagine being stuck in an airplane on the runway for that long? That is what happened to over 200 passengers with this flight.

When it comes to flying very long-haul, like Newark to Hong Kong, even business class can get a bit old and even feel cramped. But, can you imagine sitting in economy for 16 hours – on a runway, without going anywhere! This is what happened to United passengers this past weekend.

Travel Agony: Stuck on the Runway for Over 15 Hours

This trip started like any other long-haul as the United flight departed Newark at 3PM on Saturday for Hong Kong. However, there was a medical emergency so the flight diverted to Goose Bay, Canada, arriving a little after 9PM that night. The passenger was taken to a hospital.

Stuck Door and No Customs Officials

This was where the nightmare for the rest of passengers started. Because there were no customs officials available at that time of night, the passengers had to remain on the plane. The next development to this travel nightmare was that the door was stuck (or, “frozen” according to some reports). This meant that it needed to be repaired before it could continue on the journey.

Replacement Aircraft Sent the Next Day

United finally sent another plane to get these passengers the next day. This meant that the passengers were stuck onboard all through the night – while on the runway. They arrived back in Newark a little after 5pm yesterday (Sunday), a full 26 hours after departing from Newark!

According to various passengers, it seemed like the flight attendants did the best they could to take care of the passengers while onboard. In fact, some passengers even praised the crew for their handling of the delay. There were some tweets and reports that food was running low (this was to have been a long flight anyway so they probably had food for quite a while) but Canadian officials brought coffee and donuts from Tim Horton’s in the morning.

According to one news report, United has refunded the passengers for their ticket purchase, given them $500 credit, and a $100 gift card.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock and not of the aircraft involved in the delay

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


    • I did read another report a little while ago that said they had been allowed to walk around outside the plane for a few minutes but didn’t see that in any of the twitter reports. It must have something to do with it being a military airport?