Apparently, nightmarish flight delays do not only happen in China. 383 unlucky Chinese passengers were stuck at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow for around 40 hours waiting for their flight to Taiyuan to take off.
One passenger named Xiaobu told reporters that he had signed up for a “15 days in Western Europe” travel package organized by utourworld.com. He and 44 other tourists started their journey on July 26th, and expected to arrive back in Taiyuan on August 9th. Other Chinese tour groups apparently had much the same plan.
According to NetEase, the Russian I-Fly Airlines flight I49811 departed at 1:05 p.m. from Belgium, stopping over at Moscow at 5:10 p.m. local time on August 8th. The plane was supposed to depart again at 7:20 p.m., but the crew announced their take-off would be delayed without explanation.
At around 9 p.m., without getting any further information about their flight, some passengers had no choice but to buy themselves something to eat at Burger King.
Finally, at 11 p.m., the airlines staff offered everyone a bottle of mineral water and a coupon for food worth 450 rubles (46 yuan).
The tourists then settled down for a snooze on the airport benches.
At 3:45 a.m. on the next day, a female passenger talked with an airport staff member and was informed that they would likely have to wait until the afternoon before a plane was ready. Their old plane was suffering from technical problems. One Chinese man apparently didn’t take the bad news well and was detained briefly by Moscow airport police. The tour guide was able to secure his release and was then informed that actually the flight wouldn’t take off until late at night.
A Chinese embassy staff member came to the airport to visit and comfort the trapped passengers at 1:05 p.m., but he couldn’t do anything to help them with their departure time. By 5 p.m. that afternoon, the 383 Chinese passengers had been stuck at the airport for 24 hours. Feeling helpless, some of the travelers suggested that they write a letter asking for help from the Chinese embassy. Together, they drafted the letter and signed at the bottom.
By 6:05 p.m., some of the impatient passengers had had enough and began demonstrating in front of the airport staff shouting “We want to go home!” The Chinese embassy then negotiated with the airport and helped arrange VIP rooms at the airport or in nearby hotels for most of the travelers.
They even provided Chinese lunch boxes to the passengers. How thoughtful!
In the early morning of the next day, the flight was still delayed. By 2:47 p.m. on August 10th, the Chinese passengers had already stayed at Sheremetyevo International Airport for almost 40 hours.
Yikes. But the good news is that all the passengers have since arrived safely back in China, finally. And they didn’t have to spend any time in a refugee camp either.
By Sophie Wang
[Image via NetEase]