Apology to plane ordeal passengers
British Airways has apologised to Heathrow-bound customers who twice had to return to a baking-hot Saudi Arabian airport due to a faulty plane.
There were reports of passengers being sick and of fights breaking out as one BA worker tried to deal with more than 300 passengers back at Riyadh airport.
Boeing 747 first had to turn back to Riyadh on Wednesday due to a problem with the wing flaps. Then when the same plane took off on Thursday following repairs, the same problem reoccurred and the aircraft had to fly back to Riyadh.
One passenger, Dean Jones, told the online Daily Mail that in the terminal at Riyadh there was "mayhem" as just one BA worker tried to deal with more than 300 passengers while other ground crew "hid' in a back office.
He went on: "Fights broke out and the military turned up.
"We were furious they put us back up in the plane when they knew there was a serious problem. BA customer relations have been useless."
Mr Jones said that on the first return to Riyadh "there was screaming and crying and we hit the runway with a massive bang".
He said passengers had to make their own way to accommodation, before being told to return to the airport at 3am for a flight on the same plane that eventually took off at 8.45am. Around 30 minutes in, the wing flap problem recurred. Mr Jones said: "This time people were even more frightened. Women were crying. People were being sick."
After landing around 70 passengers refused to leave and called for an official to explain what was happening. The sit-in organiser said: "It was extremely hot but we had to make a stand. But nobody came to speak to us."
A BA spokesman said: "We apologise to customers for their experience, and we sent a replacement aircraft to fly them to the UK. Our customer service teams are contacting customers directly to offer compensation, expenses and complimentary tickets as a gesture of goodwill."