I know this story is a couple of days old now, but I can’t get over how scary this must have been. For those of you not familiar with it, here’s a CNN report of the situation:
Basically a United 777 flight from Honolulu to Guam had a 3.5 hour delay on the ground in Honolulu, and then less than halfway through the flight there was an “odor” in the cabin. The captain made the decision to divert the flight to Midway Island, a tiny and mostly deserted island in the middle of the Pacific.
According to a passenger, per a CNN article:
A passenger, Karen von Merveldt-Guevara of Sedona, Arizona, said the pilot spoke of smoke and failure to the radar and other systems.
“The captain said there was smoke in the cockpit and the radar failed and other electronic systems were failing, so they had to land. I think they landed old-school. They did an amazing job to get there safely,” Merveldt-Guevara said.
“At one point there was one drop of about 40 feet. After that turbulence, it got really silent. I thought everybody was praying, and we were coming in on the wings of faith. We were all praying,” Merveldt-Guevara told CNN.
Then passengers sat in a gymnasium for seven hours while a replacement plane was flown in.
All things considered it sounds like United did a good job handling this. This isn’t a situation anyone would want to be in, and ultimately the most important thing is that no one was hurt.
Once they flew in a replacement aircraft the passengers all returned to Honolulu, and in the meantime the original aircraft with the mechanical issue is already back in passenger service.
Interestingly FlyerTalk member Pazu was booked on the flight, and after the lengthy ground delay in Honolulu decided to get off the plane, even though his luggage continued with the flight:
After 4 hours of being stuck inside United Airlines Flight 201 yesterday on the tarmac in Honolulu Airport, without being told the truth about what exactly was going on (excuses about smoke in the cockpit, waiting for paperwork, waiting for a final decision from head office, a Guest Relations Officer joking on the PA system that she didn’t know what was happening either, and a steward confiding that it was a leak in the hydraulic system) we decided to deplane, much to the irritation of the crew, who kept insisting that we would be delaying the flight further if they had to pull our luggage out. We decided to forgo the luggage pullout, and they hastily closed the plane door and retracted the jetway right after we got out, probably fearing others would follow and they would have to pay for everyone’s hotel and miscellaneous expenses.
What a crazy story! It’s always easy to just look at the facts and say “oh, no one was hurt, it must not have been a big deal,” but I can’t even imagine what was going on in the minds of the passengers and crew. First a lengthy ground delay on the ground, and then an odor in the cabin and supposed announcement from the captain saying there’s smoke in the cockpit. Regardless of whether or not the nearly four hour delay was at all related to the actual “issue,” I’m sure if you’re a passenger you’d automatically link the two.
On the plus side, at least the passengers got a cool Foursquare check-in out of the flight — not many people can claim to have been on Midway Island!