Lufthansa A350 Diverts To Angola, Strands Passengers

Lufthansa A350 Diverts To Angola, Strands Passengers

45

A Lufthansa long haul flight had to divert to Angola due to engine issues, though Lufthansa’s recovery efforts here leave a bit to be desired…

Lufthansa A350 suffers engine issues, diverts to Luanda

This incident involves the Saturday, December 3, 2022, Lufthansa flight from Cape Town (CPT) to Munich (MUC), LH575. The flight was operated by a roughly five year old Airbus A350-900 with the registration code D-AIXE. The plane had 13 crew members and 286 passengers.

According to The Aviation Herald, the Airbus A350 was cruising at 38,000 feet about 10 miles from Luanda, Angola, when the crew encountered issues with the left hand engine. The crew started to descend, eventually leveling off at 20,000 feet.

Lufthansa’s diversion to Luanda, Angola

The plane entered a holding pattern to burn off fuel, and the decision was made to divert to Luanda (LAD). The aircraft landed there on runway 23 roughly one hour after the onset of trouble. In total, the plane spent over four hours in the air.

Lufthansa’s diversion to Luanda, Angola

Technical staff are being flown in to examine the plane, as it’s believed that the engine may have to be replaced. Suffice it to say that the plane hasn’t departed Angola yet.

Lufthansa strands passengers in Luanda

Diversions happen all the time, so here’s the part of the story that leaves me scratching my head. Ordinarily if you have 300 people stranded at an airport, an airline will make an effort to send a replacement plane, to pick up stranded passengers. But that’s not what happened here.

Rather here’s what allegedly happened, according to NTV:

  • Passengers were only allowed to leave the plane after hours of waiting
  • Since passengers didn’t have entry documents for Angola, the Angolan military confiscated all passengers’ passports
  • Lufthansa arranged hotels for passengers, but didn’t provide any information about how they’d continue their journey
  • Passengers later received new tickets from Lufthansa with new flights; Lufthansa wasn’t sending a rescue plane, but rather rebooked passengers on other flights
  • Many of the flight’s passengers were rebooked on flights that aren’t even soon; for example, a family with three children was given December 12 as the next possible return trip — ah, yes, enjoy your complimentary nine day vacation in Angola!

For what it’s worth, Lufthansa does operate regularly scheduled flights directly to Luanda — the airline flies there 3x weekly out of Frankfurt using an Airbus A330.

What an underwhelming recovery on Lufthansa’s part. It’s one thing if a flight in New York is canceled, where you have endless Lufthansa Group airlines and joint venture partners operating flights, and you can easily rebook everyone within a day.

But to have a flight divert to Angola (which I imagine many travelers would be uneasy about to begin with), and then basically tell passengers “hey, we’ll get you out of here in nine days,” is kind of ridiculous.

Contrast this to how a transatlantic United flight recently diverted to the Canadian Arctic, and the airline had a replacement aircraft in the air within hours.

Talk about an underwhelming recovery effort!

Bottom line

A Lufthansa Airbus A350 diverted to Luanda, Angola, due to some engine issues. While that happens from time to time, what’s surprising is how the airline handled things from there. Passengers had their passports confiscated, were sent to hotels, and were eventually sent new tickets, some of which would have them staying in Angola for over a week.

What do you make of this Lufthansa diversion?

(Tip of the hat to Klaus)

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  1. STEFFL Member

    I am NO fan of any LH-Group airline, but to comment this (Passengers were only allowed to leave the plane after hours of waiting
    Since passengers didn’t have entry documents for Angola, the Angolan military confiscated all passengers’ passports) it is a MUST for me:
    * IF such a diversion would have happened in the so praised USA, stranded Passengers would have slept in a Terminal, on a dirty carpet and MOST people...

    I am NO fan of any LH-Group airline, but to comment this (Passengers were only allowed to leave the plane after hours of waiting
    Since passengers didn’t have entry documents for Angola, the Angolan military confiscated all passengers’ passports) it is a MUST for me:
    * IF such a diversion would have happened in the so praised USA, stranded Passengers would have slept in a Terminal, on a dirty carpet and MOST people would have not been able to clear immigration, due to costly ESTA,Visa or stupid entry rules, so Angola like many other countries (Saudi Arabia e.g.) they collected passports from stranded passengers. The US Immigration, would probably not even get such an idea, because they don't even get there Global Entry system done RIGHT!
    So to me it seems like a cheap "Headline" story being put into the negative here, more then needed. Yes, Lufthansa is lousy at handling unexpected issues, . . . . wait for a REAL Emergency case, and you can and might find out!
    THIS, is just cheap headline reporting!
    In the US of A, people had to stay on a plane after an emergency landing for hours too, simply because on Immigration issues, and all that in the high sun of Florida.
    Yes, UNITED has so many spare planed and Crew, they handled the most recent diversion much better.

  2. JoFra62 Guest

    Mein Mann und ich waren auch auf diesem Flug, hatten aber das besondere Glück aus medizinischen Gründen neben einem schwangeren Pärchen und einer Familie mit Kleinkind die Happy Few zu sein, die noch am Samstag Abend mit dem letzten Flieger um 23:45 nach Lissabon aus Angola raus zu kommen. Dort konnten wir die vorbereiteten Bordkarten für den Weiterflug nach München in Empfang nehmen, sowie Vouchers für Gratissnacks. Ich kann der Crew nur das allerbeste Zeugnis...

    Mein Mann und ich waren auch auf diesem Flug, hatten aber das besondere Glück aus medizinischen Gründen neben einem schwangeren Pärchen und einer Familie mit Kleinkind die Happy Few zu sein, die noch am Samstag Abend mit dem letzten Flieger um 23:45 nach Lissabon aus Angola raus zu kommen. Dort konnten wir die vorbereiteten Bordkarten für den Weiterflug nach München in Empfang nehmen, sowie Vouchers für Gratissnacks. Ich kann der Crew nur das allerbeste Zeugnis ausstellen, sie haben sich äußerst professionell verhalten und uns umsichtig und kompetent betreut. Wir bekamen ein Team von 3 angolanischen Kolleg*innen des Bodenpersonals an die Seite gestellt, die bestens mit der Situation vertraut waren und uns durch die vielen Stufen des Security Checks navigiert haben. Wir durften sogar, unter ihrer Begleitung, das Gepäck holen und wurden dann problemlos eingecheckt, dass das Gepäck tatsächlich bis München mitgekommen ist. Den Aufenthalt im Flugzeug bei AC und Getränken habe ich ebenfalls professionell erlebt, schließlich wurden alle Schritte transparent und klar gemacht. Dass LH erst mal erreichen musste, dass die gestrandeten Passagiere einreisen durften, ist ja der Situation in Angola geschuldet und kann mE nicht LH angelastet werden. Dass manche in Eigenregie Ersatzflüge buchten ist ihr gutes Recht, aber damit fielen sie mal vorerst raus aus der Grundversorgung. Schon eigentümlich, sobald die unmittelbare Bedrohung weg fiel und wir sicher am Boden war, setzte ein unschönes Raufen um Flugplätze ein. So ärgerlich das ist, in einem Hotel und einem Land, in dem man nicht sein will, und so bedrohlich, die Pässe abgeben zu müssen, aber es war dann völlig klar, dass niemand verhungert und alle sicher nach Hause können.

  3. dillpickles Member

    Why Angola? In that amount of time, could they not have returned or picked a different country with better connectivity for their passengers?

    1. Peter Guest

      Like what though? They had only one engine. If you take a look at the map, there aren't really any good options there. I guess Windhoek would be the closest relatively friendly place with regular LH service, and that's 1.500km away. If the other engine gives you any trouble on the way there, you're out of options. Then there is Kinshasa a little closer, but I don't see what the advantage over Luanda is. I'm pretty sure the crew made the best call here.

  4. Klaus Guest

    Yesterday, Lufthansa Wet-lease partner Air Baltic flew one of its A220 to Luanda (YL-ABL). My/our assumption was, that it would pick up the stranded passengers from Luanda.
    As it turns out:
    "Dear Klaus,

    During this week airBaltic is participating in the aircraft manufacturer’s Airbus demonstration tour in Africa, showcasing its A220-300 to customers, international media and other guests. During the tour, airBaltic’s aircraft is visiting two destinations in the region.

    Best regards
    ...

    Yesterday, Lufthansa Wet-lease partner Air Baltic flew one of its A220 to Luanda (YL-ABL). My/our assumption was, that it would pick up the stranded passengers from Luanda.
    As it turns out:
    "Dear Klaus,

    During this week airBaltic is participating in the aircraft manufacturer’s Airbus demonstration tour in Africa, showcasing its A220-300 to customers, international media and other guests. During the tour, airBaltic’s aircraft is visiting two destinations in the region.

    Best regards
    airBaltic Corporate Communications Unit"

  5. iamhere Guest

    That's not acceptable. There would be a heavy compensation required for this trip many people make plans according to their itinerary. Lufthansa or Star Alliance did not have a plane that could help these people?!?! Often there has to be a wait for the crew to get their rest but still - a week later is ridiculous.

  6. 9volt Member

    In the time spent circling around LAD and burning fuel, they could have just as easily flown back to CPT and avoided all the headaches that come with immigration and rebooking.

    1. Icarus Guest

      Geography clearly isn’t your strong point.

  7. Ivan Guest

    How many years of warranty do does engines have?

  8. Layman Guest

    In 1986, on a 747 from Joburg to London with a stop in Nairobi. As we took off, I had a front row seat to engine no.3 blowing itself to pieces, lots of flames and then white powder. We continued onto Nairobi, to be told that we lost an engine and it would have to be replaced while we sat in the plane. Our passports were confiscated rather rudely and the AC was switched off....

    In 1986, on a 747 from Joburg to London with a stop in Nairobi. As we took off, I had a front row seat to engine no.3 blowing itself to pieces, lots of flames and then white powder. We continued onto Nairobi, to be told that we lost an engine and it would have to be replaced while we sat in the plane. Our passports were confiscated rather rudely and the AC was switched off. As we sat in the dark plane, condensation started dripping onto my head. Not being allowed to move, a steward brought a cushion for me to keep above my head to soak up the drips. After 4 or 5 hours we continued onto Heathrow. To land in the middle of a week long baggage handlers strike.

  9. Syd Guest

    Lufthansa is an incredible mess and shame, albeit a perfect representation of the general European state of affairs. The only reason I occasionally fly them are the 747s. On short transatlantic hops you don't have enough time to care how subpar their business class is, but you do get to board and fly the Queen.

  10. Lee Guest

    What are you people talking about?!?! LH has this new first class suite that is to die for. Sure, LH has a reputation for poor service. But, did I mention that LH has this new first class suite that is to die for? Sure, LH has had some public relations challenges recently. But, did I mention that LH has this new first class suite that is to die for? :-) Hold on. How seriously might LH take "to die for"?

  11. Ben Guest

    Lufthansa MATH: 300 people x 600 Euros = 180,000 Euros Penalty + Cheap Hotels and Cheap Rebook Fees is LESS THAN - Sending a new aircraft, crew, fuel - and just being a NICE AIRLINE!

    1. Klaus Guest

      Actually, Luanda is known to be the most expensive city in the world when it comes to western style hotels and housing.
      It’s gonna be difficult to find a cheap hotel there.

    2. Andrade Guest

      The Epic Sana and Talatona Convention Hotel remain around $500 a night. The Alvalade is now only around $300 a night whereas it was $450 a few years ago. The brand new Intercontinental was $800 a night when I was in last in Luanda. Although I am sure LH gets a discount at whichever hotel its crew currently use, I very much doubt all passengers are at the same hotel. Luanda remains extraordinarily expensive for...

      The Epic Sana and Talatona Convention Hotel remain around $500 a night. The Alvalade is now only around $300 a night whereas it was $450 a few years ago. The brand new Intercontinental was $800 a night when I was in last in Luanda. Although I am sure LH gets a discount at whichever hotel its crew currently use, I very much doubt all passengers are at the same hotel. Luanda remains extraordinarily expensive for somethings and I imagine LH will have an eye-watering hotel bill after this.

  12. Thomas Guest

    Air Baltic to the rescue (BT9802). Of course no one will be left in Angola for a week. Not even Lufthansa messes up like this ;)

    1. Klaus Guest

      Haha…it will land in 4h22. Total traveling time from PMI to LAD is 7h15m.

      So let’s wait and see if Air Baltic takes them back to CPT or if they’re actually flying on an A-220 from LAD to Europe (that would require a fueling stop).

    2. Thomas Guest

      A220 is certainly an interesting aircraft choice

    3. Eve Guest

      Thomas, LH group has been wet leasing several A220s from BT for awhile due to operational demands and also BT has several of its destinations closed due to the war in Ukraine so they had been leasing out aircrafts

    4. AJO Member

      Air Baltic's flight appears to be a flight demonstrator. This is a very new aircraft (YL-ABL), only delivered from YMX to Air Baltic a couple of days ago.
      First they are visiting TAAG and then Royal Air Maroc. Both in Angola and in Morocco, they will operate a 1 hour demonstration flight to show off the aircraft (BT is probably paid by the Airbus marketing team).

  13. Andrade Guest

    I used to work at that airport. It has improved hugely in recent years - I visited recently and couldn't believe it. To most though, it remains rather primitive. Unfortunately, Angola is a hugely bureaucratic country - a hangover from its troubled past. It is almost impossible for any airline to carry out emergency response tabletop training, let alone practical training for its LAD-based staff. The airline I worked for used to say that of...

    I used to work at that airport. It has improved hugely in recent years - I visited recently and couldn't believe it. To most though, it remains rather primitive. Unfortunately, Angola is a hugely bureaucratic country - a hangover from its troubled past. It is almost impossible for any airline to carry out emergency response tabletop training, let alone practical training for its LAD-based staff. The airline I worked for used to say that of all the places on their network, LAD would be the worst to have an emergency in as the airline just couldn't prepare as the authorities blocked any attempts at emergency training... Angola also remains frustrating and challenging to arrange a permit for any flight, let alone an ad-hoc/emergency flight... I imagine the authorities have pushed back at LH and refused a relief flight permit, and LH has been forced to try and rebook passengers on other flights at what is a peak travel period, or pay a gasosa (bribe) which would, I imagine, be against LH policy.

    1. Nelson Gold

      @ Andrade;
      "Angola is a hugely bureaucratic country"
      From my experience, besides some countries in the North of Africa, all of them are the most bureaucratic I've ever been on any place in the world. And when I say some in North Africa I can only name two. And those two are 50 times wors than any European or Asian country. The 'government' on that continent just don't wan't to grow, those who...

      @ Andrade;
      "Angola is a hugely bureaucratic country"
      From my experience, besides some countries in the North of Africa, all of them are the most bureaucratic I've ever been on any place in the world. And when I say some in North Africa I can only name two. And those two are 50 times wors than any European or Asian country. The 'government' on that continent just don't wan't to grow, those who want to grow just emigrate. Don't misunderstand me, there are wonderfull places all over Africa and I'm mostly talking about doing business with them.

  14. Knut Guest

    I was on this flight so for the first time I'll comment an article here.
    When the announcement was made that we would divert it took about 30-40 min before we landed. From my perspective this part was not dramatic. The captain was very calm and explained the situation well.
    After landing he informed us that due to the poor infrastructure of the airport it would be more comfortable for us to wait...

    I was on this flight so for the first time I'll comment an article here.
    When the announcement was made that we would divert it took about 30-40 min before we landed. From my perspective this part was not dramatic. The captain was very calm and explained the situation well.
    After landing he informed us that due to the poor infrastructure of the airport it would be more comfortable for us to wait onboard the aircraft as we had air conditioning and drinks available, having seen the terminal upon departure again I totally agree with his assessment!
    Felt a little uncomfortable about surrendering my passport to the immigration/military but that was the only way it seemed. Getting our bags and getting to the hotel was as chaotic as one can imagine, but at least the hotel was prepared (under the circumstances) when we arrived. Nice enough hotel where 3 meals pr day were provided.
    As mentioned in the article no rescue plane was sent and information was pretty much non existent. We recieved our new itinerary by email for flights 4 days later but chose to make own arrangements.

    Getting our passports back again at the airport was as smooth as smooth could be, picked it up at the Lufthansa office and proceeded to check in. Immigration authorities knew about our situation so no problems getting out of the country.

    I'm happy we were able to make own arrangements and that I'll be home soon. Hope the rest of the passengers will get on their way soon too.

    I've never planned on visiting Luanda, and from the little I saw I'm not planning a new trip!

    1. Klaus Guest

      Have a safe flight back and thank you for your insight.

      Just wondering, what do you mean by “own arrangements”? Does that mean after calling Lufthansa constantly they rebooked you on an earlier flight? Or did you book a new flight in your own?

      I would’ve Assumed that Lufthansa
      Automatically rebooks pax on some random flight but if you call them they will manually book you on a better option?

    2. Knut Guest

      Lufthansa rebooked us for a flight on Wednesday, which wasn't ideal for us so I bought new tickets with different airlines.

    3. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      Hi Knut! Thank You for sharing! So will LH reimburse you? Was the different flight expensive? Sorry to be nosey, I just want to find out more now that story has begun! Glad you made it back safely!

    4. Icarus Guest

      They will be obliged to refund reasonable costs to get to the destination, if the alternative offered wasn’t suitable. In addition to EU compensation being due.

      Angola is a notoriously difficult place for airlines to operate. Even if Lufthansa wanted to offer a recovery flight it may have taken days to plan. Airlines can’t just operate rescue flights when they want to. It’s not the US.

    5. Knut Guest

      Given the circumstances it wasn't too bad. I have the rest of the year or possibly next year to figure out who will end up paying for what. At the time it was most important to just get on our way before others started booking tickets of their own.

    6. Knut Guest

      I bought new tickets with different airlines myself, was the easiest way to get home

  15. Sean M. Diamond

    Angola does not usually permit airlines to operate rescue/recovery flights unless there are spare bilateral rights available (ie. Lufthansa would have to cancel one of their scheduled flights to Angola if they wanted to fly an empty aircraft in to rescue the stranded passengers).

    There used to be a joke (many years ago) that if you had a choice between ditching in the ocean or diverting to Angola, you should first check how many of your passengers could swim.

    1. Sam G Guest

      This makes sense. The obvious solution would have been to send an aircraft from Germany or even to cancel another flight out of Africa and use that as the rescue aircraft otherwise, having to manage the passengers would be a bigger headache for Lufthansa

    2. JH Guest

      And people wonder why countries in Africa are still (and will likely always be) Fourth World.

    3. dillpickles Member

      I'm sure Europeans extracting their natural resources to build wealth in Europe didn't help much either...

  16. Nelson Gold

    Yeah, besides LH also don't expect great help from that country. Ben I also remember your stories about your TAAG flight LAD-GRU back in time.
    That must be horrible for the passengers. Don't remember about CPT anymore but to enter Angolan territory you absolutely need the Yellow Fever Jab, even if only on transit. Wonder how they managed that.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Nelson -- Hah, indeed, had quite an adventure in Angola...

    2. Thomas Guest

      I have the yellow fever jab, but i would certainly be a very interesting call to the office

      "Hey boss, i'm stranded in Angola, see you in a week"
      "Oh my god, what have you done!?"
      "Ah, just engine trouble and no plane on reserve"
      "Haha, nice try, see you on Monday!"

  17. Steven M Guest

    "What an underwhelming recovery on Lufthansa’s part."

    Another helpful reminder of why we don't ever fly Lufthansa — ever since the day a strike cancelled a flight we'd booked months prior and we were rewarded with a Delta ticket to another country.

    1. Rizz Guest

      Totally. I actively go out of my way to avoid LH.

      Having been to Angola recently, it's a pretty fascinating country and the infrastructure (and safety) has improved a lot in the past decade or so, but obviously not a destination where most people would want to be diverted and abandoned.

      The new InterContinental hotel in Luanda is excellent btw.

    2. Levi Diamond

      In the alliances, the EU and NA membership are the key members. LH Group being a dumpster fire and IAG/AA being at least a smoldering recycling bin are the strongest reasons to favor SkyTeam (especially if you're not as interested in the Far East).

    3. Jake212 Guest

      @Levi -

      Definitely agree with your description of LH Group being a dumpster fire, but not sure why AA/BA is a smoldering recycling bin and SkyTeam is so favored. Have you seen the mess that is AMS airport and the impacts it’s having on KL & DL ops?

      Don’t even get me started on the snooty French attitudes of AF cabin crew, gate agents, security, etc.

      Quite frankly LHR is the best transit airport experience currently. BA/AA or VS.

  18. Bobby Spinks Guest

    I was watching this flight on FR24 as it circled around Luanda, I can only imagine how the passengers felt landing in Angola

    1. Thomas Guest

      My goal is to visit as many countries as possible so i'd be very excited - but i'd probably be the only one. Plus i have the yellow fever jab.

    2. Nelson Gold

      @ Thomas; your "exited" could end as soon as you land or in the worst case at the start of your journey if you fly TAAG. :-)

    3. Thomas Guest

      I have a thing for slightly masochistic stuff - and hey TAAG has 3 skytrax stars and i already flew on a one-star airline. Sounds quite premium to me :D

    4. Sam Guest

      Only need it if traveling from other yellow fever susceptible countries.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Knut Guest

I was on this flight so for the first time I'll comment an article here. When the announcement was made that we would divert it took about 30-40 min before we landed. From my perspective this part was not dramatic. The captain was very calm and explained the situation well. After landing he informed us that due to the poor infrastructure of the airport it would be more comfortable for us to wait onboard the aircraft as we had air conditioning and drinks available, having seen the terminal upon departure again I totally agree with his assessment! Felt a little uncomfortable about surrendering my passport to the immigration/military but that was the only way it seemed. Getting our bags and getting to the hotel was as chaotic as one can imagine, but at least the hotel was prepared (under the circumstances) when we arrived. Nice enough hotel where 3 meals pr day were provided. As mentioned in the article no rescue plane was sent and information was pretty much non existent. We recieved our new itinerary by email for flights 4 days later but chose to make own arrangements. Getting our passports back again at the airport was as smooth as smooth could be, picked it up at the Lufthansa office and proceeded to check in. Immigration authorities knew about our situation so no problems getting out of the country. I'm happy we were able to make own arrangements and that I'll be home soon. Hope the rest of the passengers will get on their way soon too. I've never planned on visiting Luanda, and from the little I saw I'm not planning a new trip!

14
Sean M. Diamond

Angola does not usually permit airlines to operate rescue/recovery flights unless there are spare bilateral rights available (ie. Lufthansa would have to cancel one of their scheduled flights to Angola if they wanted to fly an empty aircraft in to rescue the stranded passengers). There used to be a joke (many years ago) that if you had a choice between ditching in the ocean or diverting to Angola, you should first check how many of your passengers could swim.

14
Andrade Guest

I used to work at that airport. It has improved hugely in recent years - I visited recently and couldn't believe it. To most though, it remains rather primitive. Unfortunately, Angola is a hugely bureaucratic country - a hangover from its troubled past. It is almost impossible for any airline to carry out emergency response tabletop training, let alone practical training for its LAD-based staff. The airline I worked for used to say that of all the places on their network, LAD would be the worst to have an emergency in as the airline just couldn't prepare as the authorities blocked any attempts at emergency training... Angola also remains frustrating and challenging to arrange a permit for any flight, let alone an ad-hoc/emergency flight... I imagine the authorities have pushed back at LH and refused a relief flight permit, and LH has been forced to try and rebook passengers on other flights at what is a peak travel period, or pay a gasosa (bribe) which would, I imagine, be against LH policy.

8
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