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Swire Group

Trapped for six hours on plane

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2012, 12:00am

Passengers trapped for six hours on a Dragonair plane on the tarmac at Hong Kong airport at the height of Typhoon Vicente went through a grim ordeal as the aircraft was rocked by the blasting winds.

Some started vomiting as the plane 'shook like a roller coaster', said an attendant on the flight.

Flight KA993 from Beijing had landed after typhoon signal 9 had been hoisted and could not be unloaded because of the storm.

The attendant said the fully-laden aircraft with 300 people on board, was parked in an outer bay, where passengers have to disembark and take a bus to the terminal.

'We could not open the door and there were no land staff as they were not supposed to work in a typhoon,' she said. 'All we could do was wait.'

The group waited until 5.30am when the land staff resumed work and helped them leave the plane.

The flight had been scheduled to land at 9.55pm but was delayed to 11.50pm. 'If we had known earlier there was typhoon signal 9 in Hong Kong, we would not have landed,' the attendant said.

A Dragonair spokeswoman issued an apology to the passengers and said the crew had done their best to keep them informed.

Thousands of passengers - including Hong Kong athletes bound for the London Olympics - were stranded in the airport, inside and outside the terminal towers, as 325 flights were delayed, 79 cancelled and 21 diverted.

Among the stranded travellers in the departure hall was champion cyclist Wong Kam-po, whose Air New Zealand flight was delayed by two hours. 'That shouldn't affect my preparations,' he said. 'Our coach arranged that we would arrive in daytime so we could have more rest.'

Badminton and table tennis representatives were also delayed.

Londoner Alan Barrett was taking his six-year-old son and his wife to see his family in Britain yesterday, but his China Eastern Airlines flight was cancelled and the earliest flight they could take was tomorrow.

The 60-year-old was trying yesterday morning to see if he could get on an earlier plane. '[The airline] knew last night that they were not flying, but they couldn't be bothered to send me an e-mail,' he said.

Hundreds of passengers were also stranded on an Emirates plane that had been due to take off at 12.35am for Dubai. They were told after boarding that the plane could not take off and were not allowed to disembark until 7am. 'Most of us didn't sleep because we were wondering whether the plane was going to take off soon,' said Niko Marshall, 27, a New Zealander living in Spain.

'A couple of restless passengers vented their anger at the air-hostesses,' he said. 'I am just tired and sleepy ... I can't wait to be home.'

After spending 24 hours at the airport he boarded a 9pm flight and faced another 16 hours travelling to his home in San Sebastian.

More than 100 fans of the English rock band Radiohead planning to fly to Taipei to see the band play were unhappy with the arrangements by Hong Kong Airlines. The fans, who had bought the travel package on Groupon and had planned to board a noon flight, were stranded for almost 10 hours without any word on when they could depart.

'They should have told us the plane would be cancelled before we left for the airport,' insurance worker Wilson Lee Wai-sang, 43, said.

They were was given a meal ticket and HK$400 compensation, but bar owner Bobby Wong Ki-chong, 33, said they did not want money but a flight confirmation.

Yvonne Figgins, a 92-year-old disabled woman from London, had few problems getting to Hong Kong from Singapore yesterday morning, but the family supposed to meet her at the airport and help with her luggage were delayed more than four hours.

'It's crazy,' she said, adding that although her friends had set off, also from Singapore on a different airline two hours before her, she was still awaiting their arrival two hours after her plane touched down.


The number of flights delayed because of Typhoon Vicente at Hong Kong airport, with a further 79 cancelled and another 21 diverted