HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L. – An end is finally in sight for travelers who spent 16 years on a plane grounded on a tarmac in frigid Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL, though a passenger was left out of experience by frustrated and wondering why it took so long 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 traveled for pretty much a weekly basis for the last almost 20 years, and I've never experienced something like this."
United Airlines spokeswoman Natalie Noonan, according to the United Flight 179 from Newark, N.J., to Hong Kong was diverted to the Goose Bay Airport after Saturday night after a passenger experienced a medical emergency.
She said that after the passenger was removed from the plane and taken to hospital, a mechanical issue with the aircraft from taking off. Noonan believes the door was unable to be shut because it is likely to be froze in the wintry temperatures.
Noonan said passengers were not able to get off the plane
As the hours drew on, Dutt said that there was little communication between the airline and the 250 passengers stuck on the plane, which became uncomfortably cold as temperatures around -30 C.
He chronicled his experience on social media, tweeting out photos and tagging United in many 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, and I feel like that was not done."
Dutt said the food began to run low, but after about 10 hours, his legs were stretched to the people from the food from Tim Hortons to the passengers, and some people were taken to the airport's customs area.
The passengers were still on board. When the door repair proved to be a long 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 on 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 just not equipped to handle everybody that was coming in."
The Goose Bay Airport could not be reached for comment Sunday.