Passengers on Friday’s British Airways flight from London to Hong Kong sure had an adventure…
British Airways flight to Hong Kong diverts to Manila
British Airways operates a daily flight from London (LHR) to Hong Kong (HKG) using a Boeing 777, with the flight number BA31. The flight on Friday, October 8, 2021, started off as any other. The flight is blocked at 12 hours, and was scheduled to depart London at 6:40PM on Friday, and arrive in Hong Kong at 1:40PM on Saturday.
The flight departed just fine, and about 11 hours after departure it was on approach to Hong Kong. Unfortunately Hong Kong was dealing with a tropical storm on Saturday. The British Airways 777 tried to land in Hong Kong, but due to the weather situation, the pilots had to perform a go around. The pilots attempted to land a second time, but another go around was needed. Uh oh.
At this point the pilots made the decision to divert, given that the weather wasn’t improving. Planes consistently carry extra fuel for these kinds of situations, to both account for go arounds and diversions.
In this case the decision was made to divert over 700 miles away, to Manila, where the weather was significantly better. The flight continued, and sure enough it landed in Manila a full 13hr19min after departing London, at around 4PM local time.
Passengers stuck on British Airways plane overnight
With all passengers safely on the ground, it was time to decide what to do next. The weather was still bad in Hong Kong, so the flight couldn’t continue just yet. Then there’s of course the whole issue of border restrictions due to coronavirus — due to restrictions, most passengers on the plane weren’t eligible to enter the Philippines, so it’s not like British Airways could even let everyone off the plane and put them in a hotel for the night.
Instead everyone — including passengers and crew — spent the night on the plane. As mentioned above, the plane arrived in Manila at 4PM, and could finally leave for Hong Kong the following morning at 10AM, so the plane was on the ground for 18 hours.
At 10AM the following morning, the plane finally started its flight to Hong Kong. The flight took around 1hr56min, and even that flight had a bit of excitement — the flight had one aborted landing this time around (in addition to the two the previous day).
The flight finally landed in Hong Kong at around 12PM, around 22 hours behind schedule. When the plane finally landed in Hong Kong, the cabin broke out in applause.
In the end, passengers were onboard the plane for 33 hours after departing London, and that’s not accounting for the time people spent at the airport in London prior to the flight. Passengers had positive things to say about the crew, so kudos to them for how they handled this very difficult situation.
I can’t imagine how tough this must have been for those in economy, between having to sit up and wear a mask for all of that time. Meanwhile for those in first and business class, maybe it wasn’t quite as bad.
Friday’s British Airways flight from London to Hong Kong sure was a long one. While the flight usually takes around 12 hours, in this case passengers were on the plane for around 33 hours.
There was a tropical storm in Hong Kong, so after two missed approaches, the decision was made to divert to Manila. With the weather in Hong Kong having not improved, passengers had to spend the night on the plane in the Philippines. The next morning the plane finally continued to Hong Kong, where passengers eventually landed after yet another missed approach.
What an adventure — kudos to the crew for keeping everyone safe.