Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Oven hitch grounds United Airlines Belfast to New York flight

US-bound passengers hot under collar at cancellation
US-bound passengers hot under collar at cancellation

Airline passengers were left hot under the collar after their flight from Northern Ireland was cancelled – apparently due to a screw coming loose in an oven.

More than 150 people on the United Airlines flight from Belfast International Airport to New York were put up in hotels overnight after spending more than six hours waiting for a final decision.

Journalist Rodney Edwards was among 158 passengers left high and dry.

He took to his Twitter account to express his frustration onboard the Boeing 757-200.

"No answers at Belfast International after oven issue cancels NYC flight. People frustrated. One lady fears she will miss daughter's wedding," the Impartial Reporter journalist wrote on the social networking site.

The Fermanagh-based reporter told his 14,000 followers that the pilot was unhappy with the situation and disappointed that he had not been made aware of the problem beforehand.

As temperatures onboard rose, Mr Edwards said the pilot told passengers that this was the first time in aviation history that an issue with an oven had led to a flight being cancelled.

He added that there were even attempts to source a replacement screw at Gatwick.

"Passengers, including me, frustrated at Belfast International after issue with oven cancels flight to NYC. Why no back-up plan?" he asked.

A spokesman on Belfast International's official Twitter account responded by saying that the airline rather than airport makes operational decisions over flight status.

But Mr Edwards said the airport had "badly managed" the situation.

Limited communication from airport to passengers was a problem.

Passengers were on board the plane for more than two hours before being asked to get off and returned to the airport.

After United Airlines apologised to passengers, the crew began to order hotel accommodation for them and handed out meal vouchers.

Last night a spokesman for United told the Belfast Telegraph the flight was cancelled following "an unexpected technical issue".

"We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused," he added.

A spokeswoman for Belfast International Airport said passengers were being provided with meals and hotel accommodation.

United Airlines was looking into the circumstances of the "creeping delay".

The spokeswoman said the rescheduled flight was due to take off today at 9.30am.

QUOTES

"United Airlines flight to New York/Newark was cancelled following an unexpected technical issue. Our customer service team at Belfast provided our customers with meals and overnight hotel accommodation. The aircraft is scheduled to depart Belfast International Airport today at 9.30 am as flight UA1749. – United Airlines.

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