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Malcolm

Too Cold for the Plane +- Lack of Customs

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United Airlines plane diverted to Goose Bay leaves passengers stuck on board for over 13 hours

A United Airlines plane diverted to Goose Bay Airport in Labrador Saturday night has resulted in a lengthy stay on the tarmac for passengers stranded on the aircraft.

Passengers unable to leave plane during extreme cold warning

Lukas Wall, Malone Mullin · CBC News · Posted: Jan 20, 2019 1:02 PM NT | Last Updated: 37 minutes ago
United Flight 179 was diverted to Goose Bay, N.L., due to a medical emergency Saturday night, however a mechanical issue prevented the plane from taking off again. (Philip Earle/Twitter)

A United Airlines plane diverted to Goose Bay Airport in Labrador Saturday night has resulted in a lengthy stay on the tarmac, according to passengers stranded on the aircraft.

In a statement to CBC News, the airline says United Flight 179 travelling from Newark, N.J., to Hong Kong was diverted to Goose Bay, N.L., due to medical emergency, where medical personnel met the plane and brought the passenger to hospital.

However, a mechanical issue prevented the plane from taking off again. Passengers were not able to leave the aircraft because customs officers were not available overnight, United said.

Passengers told CBC News 250 people are on board and have been waiting more than 13 hours for a replacement airplane.

Paramedics responded to a medical emergency on the plane that required crew to make an unplanned landing at the Goose Bay airport. (Submitted by Sonjay Dutt)

The airline believes cold weather caused a door on the plane to malfunction, preventing takeoff. Happy Valley-Goose Bay is currently grappling with an extreme cold warning issued by Environment Canada, with temperatures dipping below -30 C.

Communication poor, passenger says

Temperatures on the plane quickly plummeted to "uncomfortable" levels, said passenger Sonjay Dutt, a professional wrestler en route to Hong Kong for a show.

Crew handed out blankets, but according to Dutt, they were able to offer little else to assuage mounting anger from passengers.

"Communication could be better," Dutt said in a phone call from the plane. Passengers were told at the start of the delay that a rescue flight had already departed to return them to Newark. An update wasn't announced until about five hours later, he said.

They were also told the airport didn't have the customs capacity to handle hundreds of passengers, Dutt added.

Dutt also said food and water was running low until about 10 hours into the delay, when officials delivered Tim Hortons to hungry travellers.

Most appreciated the gesture, Dutt said, but reaction to the offering was muted.

"I think people are so fed up, and so at their wits' end, that even the sight of food didn't get everyone up and cheering."

Other passengers on board tweeted out complaints to United, wondering why they had been told a replacement plane was in the air and were not informed of further delays. Dutt said a pilot told passengers to email United's CEO with complaints about communication practices.

A Twitter account sprang up Sunday morning poking fun at the situation.

In its statement, United said an alternative aircraft had been sent to Goose Bay to fly passengers back to Newark if mechanics are unable to fix the malfunctioning door.

Passengers reported that rescue plane touched down around noon local time.

The airline said it had food delivered to the plane and the second aircraft would provide more meals for passengers.

United said it apologizes to its customers and and is doing everything possible to assist them during the delay

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Customs not available???....let ‘em  off the airplane....it’s -30 C ..... nobody is going anywhere and nobody will want to stay!!,

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3 minutes ago, st27 said:

Customs not available???....let ‘em  off the airplane....it’s -30 C ..... nobody is going anywhere and nobody will want to stay!!,

Strange that they could not just call out a customs (immigration) agent.  But the law is after all the law. I guess.

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Just let them all into the gate area and keep it sterile.  This should be a no brainer

 

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1 hour ago, boestar said:

Just let them all into the gate area and keep it sterile.  This should be a no brainer

 

Never been there, is the gate area that big? Image result for passenger gate area at goose bay

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They were 3 hours into a 15 hour flight.  If the APU was serviceable then they would be able to keep the cabin at a comfortable temperature.  So what is the difference between sitting in your seat on the ground or in flight for another 12 hours?

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Food, Water, Limited Bathroom Facilities and that 13 hours tacks on to the 15 hour flight.  You want to sit on a plane for nearly 30 hours?  Not me

 

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8 minutes ago, boestar said:

Food, Water, Limited Bathroom Facilities and that 13 hours tacks on to the 15 hour flight.  You want to sit on a plane for nearly 30 hours?  Not me

 

Food, water and bathrooms are the same on the ground and on flight.  Maybe I msread the article but the gist of the complaints are about not being let off the plane for 13 hours.  If they were held onboard for that length of time, then re-departed for a 15 hour flight making it a 30 hour endurance test, then I agree with you.  But I don’t think that was the case.

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They sat on the airplane for 13 hours then wen back to New York then departed again

 

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15 hours ago, boestar said:

Just let them all into the gate area and keep it sterile.  This should be a no brainer

 

Never been there, is the gate area that big? 

Any Way, here is what appears to be the full story.  Not quite as bad as in the original post.

250 passengers stranded aboard airplane in frigid Labrador for 16 hours

 
‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2019, ‏‎6:00:01 PM | Peter Muir

News provided by cityews1130.com/Canadian Press

BY THE CANADIAN PRESS

Posted Jan 20, 2019 12:32 pm PST

CPT101525820.jpg

Passengers leave a plane and board buses to change planes in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. An end is finally in sight for passengers who spent about 16 gruelling hours on a plane grounded at an airport in frigid Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. United Flight 179 from Newark, N.J., to Hong Kong was diverted to the Goose Bay Airport Saturday night after a passenger experienced a medical emergency, according to United Airlines spokeswoman Natalie Noonan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – Sonjay Dutt

HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L. — An end is finally in sight for passengers who spent 16 gruelling hours on a plane grounded on a tarmac in frigid Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., though a passenger was left frustrated by the experience and wondering why it took so long to get help.

“You’re cold, you’re tired, you’re hungry,” said Sonjay Dutt, a professional wrestler who was travelling to an event in China.

“I’ve travelled for work pretty much on a weekly basis for the last almost 20 years, and I’ve never experienced something like this.”

United Flight 179 from Newark, N.J., to Hong Kong was diverted to the Goose Bay Airport Saturday night after a passenger experienced a medical emergency, according to United Airlines spokeswoman Natalie Noonan.

She said that after the passenger was removed from the plane and taken to hospital, a mechanical issue with the plane’s door prevented the aircraft from taking off. Noonan believes the door was unable to be shut because it likely froze in the wintry temperatures.

As the hours drew on, Dutt said there was little communication between the airline and the 250 passengers stuck on the plane, which became uncomfortably cold as temperatures outside plunged to nearly -30 C.

He chronicled his experience on social media, tweeting out photos and tagging United in several posts.

“At one point you have to roll with the punches. You’re at their mercy,” he said in a phone interview. “You’re just hoping that they can communicate with you as honestly as possible, and I feel like that wasn’t done.”

Dutt said food began to run low, but after about 10 hours, officials delivered food from Tim Hortons to the passengers, and some people were taken to the airport’s customs area to stretch their legs.

Mechanics arrived late Sunday morning and attempted to fix the door while the passengers were still on board. When the door repair proved to be a lengthy process, the tired travellers were moved to a rescue plane, which was supposed to leave for Newark late Sunday afternoon.

Dutt said he’s a frequent flier with the airline and will be looking for answers once he gets back.

“This is unacceptable at all levels,” he said.

In response, Noonan said the company did “everything they could” to make sure the passengers were as comfortable as possible.

United officials will greet the passengers upon their arrival in Newark, she said, and will provide them with compensation — including refunds and vouchers — after their ordeal.

“We absolutely understand the frustration. It is a very unique situation,” she said.

“The airport they landed in was just not equipped to handle everyone that was coming in.”

The Goose Bay Airport could not be reached for comment Sunday.

The Canadian Press

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22 hours ago, Malcolm said:

Strange that they could not just call out a customs (immigration) agent.  But the law is after all the law. I guess.

A medical diversion and frozen door that wouldn’t have been opened until HKG is out of the airline’s control but the customs requirement/delay was unnecessary and didn’t help the situation. Who would be getting off the plane in Goose Bay other than the sick passenger? 

Was the APU unserviceable? Flying a polar route and hope you don’t divert. Oops. 🙊 

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On 1/20/2019 at 3:40 PM, boestar said:

Just let them all into the gate area and keep it sterile.  This should be a no brainer

 

Agree! We have the RCMP helping illegal entrants across the border, at least these folks were all vetted by security before they entered.

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.

Border Services vague on why passengers stranded in Goose Bay for 16 hours were kept on plane

What has changed since 187 people were taken off plane and housed at CFB Goose Bay in 2015?

Thu Jan 24, 2019 - CBC News

Nearly five days after 250 passengers were kept on a plane for 16 hours in Labrador, the Canada Border Services Agency still isn't saying why they weren't allowed to disembark.

Late Saturday night, United Airlines Flight 179 from Newark, N.J., to Hong Kong was diverted to Goose Bay Airport because of a medical emergency.

Medical personnel met the plane and took the passenger to hospital, while the remaining passengers were kept on board and told the airport didn't have customs capacity to handle so many people.

With the plane unable to take off due to a malfunctioning door, the airline brought in another plane that took the passengers back to Newark, leaving around 2 p.m. the next day.

The agency declined CBC's request for an interview and provided an emailed response instead Tuesday afternoon, saying the Goose Bay airport is designated "an authorized AOE/15," which allows for the clearance and refuelling of scheduled air traffic "not exceeding 15 passengers and crew."

Decision rests with the pilot: CBSA

CBC asked the agency whether that means Goose Bay Airport doesn't have the capacity to handle unscheduled flights with more than 15 people aboard, and if so, what has changed since nearly 200 people on a diverted United Airlines flight in June 2015 were allowed to get off.

In a followup response from the CBSA on Thursday afternoon, the agency did not answer those questions, but repeated Goose Bay's designation as an authorized AOE/15.

In the 2015 incident, United Airlines wound up apologizing to passengers because they were housed at CFB Goose Bay, while the flight crew were put up at a hotel.

CBSA's statement Tuesday noted its normal operating hours at Goose Bay Airport are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week, but the followup response Thursday said its hours are 8 a.m. to midnight. A spokesperson explained via email that staff work in the office until 6:30 p.m. but the CBSA continues to provide service either from Goose Bay or from its Gander office.

"There are procedures in place in the event of a flight diversion landing outside of normal CBSA working hours," reads the Tuesday statement, which also says the decision to request to deplane rests with the pilot of an aircraft. On Thursday, the agency's statement noted flights that arrive between midnight and 8 a.m. and require clearance are handled "on a cost-recovery basis."

Asked if the pilot requested deplaning, the agency said Thursday afternoon it received a request from United Airlines around 6:15 a.m. GMT (2:15 a.m. in Happy Valley-Goose Bay) for CBSA service to deplane passengers. However, the agency later corrected that time to have been 6:15 a.m. NT, so 5:45 a.m. in Labrador.

The statement said the agency began a "rotational disembarkation" for groups of 20 to 30 passengers at a time while waiting for the rescue plane, but did not state what time the first group of passengers was actually allowed off the plane.

The status of the passenger taken off for medical reasons is unclear, as the agency said it doesn't speak to the specifics of any one particular case.

.

 

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You have to wonder if part of the problem was the lack of suitable clothing to protect the passenger from the time of deplaning to getting indoors. 

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United lowers Goose Bay to emergencies only. I thought their flight was a medical emergency.

It’s surprising that Goose Bay with its long history of being a fuel stop since WWII needs to work on how to handle large aircraft and passenger loads, etc  . 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/united-airlines-goose-bay-1.5005484?utm_source=skies-daily-news-news-from-the-web&utm_campaign=skies-daily-news&utm_medium=email&utm_term=news-news-from-the-web&utm_content=V1

37B9D8E6-8E09-4316-A2D9-1900D1928329.jpeg

Edited by blues deville

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Because of the "boon-doggle" with its last stop and the money it probably cost them  United that has designated Goose as an EMERGENCY airport....in other words, United does not want to route plan the airport as an ALTERNATE or FUEL STOP airport.  Goose has not stated they will only accept declared  EMERGENCY  calls .

Goose is trying to figure out how they can better handle a diversion to their airport. Remember this is NFLD and Labrador ........perhaps they are still stuck in the DC3 and Super Constellation days !!!😊

 

Putting on my tin hat and flame retardant suit now...😎

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Not sure whats happened since 911 when they went above and beyond. Now one medical diversion 777 creates a passenger/ground handling problem?

DC7D51BE-6D2C-4C82-9CB9-B35E2CD276C2.jpeg

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Oh for god's sake, you sure that's not GANDER you're thinking of? Kind of a big difference. Goose is a military airport with a terminal the size of a large bus. Lovely people tho. But you can't dump a load of folks there. The airplane was bigger and has WAY more washrooms. Sheesh.

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20 minutes ago, Southshore said:

Oh for god's sake, you sure that's not GANDER you're thinking of? Kind of a big difference. Goose is a military airport with a terminal the size of a large bus. Lovely people tho. But you can't dump a load of folks there. The airplane was bigger and has WAY more washrooms. Sheesh.

Goose did accommodate seven large aircraft. Not nearly as many as Gander or Halifax. 

And try a Snicker’s bar. :)

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22 hours ago, blues deville said:

Goose did accommodate seven large aircraft. Not nearly as many as Gander or Halifax. 

And try a Snicker’s bar. :)

Ahh, you noticed my little 'frustration' thing there, didja? Sorry about that. Well, for a pretty smart bunch around here, some things tend to get missed. Like how far away and how different Gander and Goose Bay are from each other are. My ire stems from the endless number of comments are directed at Goose Bay (with which I have no connection except having been there a few dozen times years ago.) One is not even connected to the continent! But, thru this whole event, all the commentary was "how did this go so wrong?? What about 911?" Not even remotely connected. If Goose managed 7 large machines - I'd be amazed. They went above and beyond in that case. If there is 1 Customs official based there full time - well, see the sentence above. But, endlessly, folks keep commenting in the same frame confusing Gander with Goose with no effort to differentiate between the two. You are, by far, not the first to make the error. In the meantime, CBSA is explaining a non event. 16 hours in the middle of nowhere with no services in a real sense on an airplane that served them far better than sticking them in a hangar that is not legal or secure and probably 2 cans. It was an inconvenience. No more.  But Goose Bay got the raw end of the deal cuz folks don't look stuff up. Gotta love Google don't cha? United got the picture, it appears, by deleting Goose as an alternate. Good plan. 

Ah, blood sugar's back up. 😉

Nice pic of Gander tho. 

Cheers

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Hey Southshore......did y'all get SCREECHED IN..... at Gander?? I did back in 1966 and much  later in my career I took a Herc in there and of course all the troops had changed so "they" said I had to be SCREECHED IN.

 In desperation I asked for the book they kept all the names in of those that had been initiated.........believe it of not...I found my name and avoided the ritual.

My FO was a pipe-line female, and well.........you know how it goes......I might as well have been flying solo the next day !!!

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I think the frustration with the medical diversion was the need for customs to check all passengers. Perhaps had the door problem not occurred they would have departed without any issues. I’ve had a few late night arrivals at YYZ where our crew of four phoned in their details to customs because the agents didn’t want to drive around to the mid-field cargo area and meet us in person. And I was the only Canadian citizen in the group. 

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4 hours ago, Kip Powick said:

Hey Southshore......did y'all get SCREECHED IN..... at Gander?? I did back in 1966 and much  later in my career I took a Herc in there and of course all the troops had changed so "they" said I had to be SCREECHED IN.

 In desperation I asked for the book they kept all the names in of those that had been initiated.........believe it of not...I found my name and avoided the ritual.

My FO was a pipe-line female, and well.........you know how it goes......I might as well have been flying solo the next day !!!

Never turn down being screeched in. 

 

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