A United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Sydney was forced to divert to Pago Pago in the middle of the South Pacific after the pilots shut down one of the engines of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, fearing an oil leak.
United Airlines flight UA839 departed Los Angeles late on Thursday night but more than six hours into the 14-hour flight to Sydney, the pilots suddenly veered off course and started heading towards the Samoan Islands in the central South Pacific.
After shutting down the right-hand engine, the seven-and-a-half-year-old aircraft was brought down to a lower altitude before landing without further incident around two and a half hours later at Pago Pago International Airport.
Pago Pago is the only modern urban center in American Samoa and it soon became apparent that fixing the stranded the Dreamliner wouldn’t be an easy fix.
According to some reports, passengers hoping to get to Sydney in time for New Year’s Eve were instead treated to the tour of Tutuila island and were invited to drink beer on the beach while United’s maintenance team figured out what to do.
Thankfully, United has been able to rejig its schedule and is now positioning a spare Dreamliner from Sydney where it will pick up the stranded passengers and bring them the rest of the way to Australia.
If all goes to plan, passengers will be celebrating the beginning of 2023 just as the plane is making final preparations to land in Sydney, where it is due to touchdown at around 12:30 am.
The incident happened exactly a week after a Qantas Airbus A380 from Singapore to London was forced to divert to Baku in Azerbaijan after a smoke indication warning in the cargo hold.
In this case, passengers who had hoped to be in London in time for Christmas Day were left waiting in Baku until Qantas could send a replacement A380 all the way from Sydney to rescue them. The passengers eventually arrived at London Heathrow Airport on the morning of Christmas Day.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.