Passengers onboard an Etihad Airways flight from Toronto to Abu Dhabi claim they were stuck onboard the aircraft for a total of nearly 24 hours after the plane was diverted twice – first for a broken part to be replaced and then for an unscheduled change of crew.
Several passengers claim they were never given the opportunity to get off the Boeing 787 Dreamliner during this entire time, and, to make matters worse, when they finally reached Abu Dhabi, no one from the airline was waiting to provide further information or help with hotel accommodation.
Etihad Airways flight EY-140 departed Toronto’s Pearson Airport at around 9:30 pm on Friday but shortly after takeoff, the pilots told the passengers that a technical snag that couldn’t be fixed in the air would require them to return immediately to Toronto.
The nearly five-year-old aircraft was placed into a holding pattern over Lake Ontario to burn off excess fuel before landing back at Toronto Airport, where engineers were waiting to inspect the plane.
At this point, however, some passengers say they were required to sit on the plane overnight for nearly six hours while a spare part was sourced and the aircraft was fitted.
During this time, they say they were never given the option to get off the aircraft, although Etihad disputes these accounts. Passengers say they were offered water during this delay but no food.
The flight finally got underway again at 6:40 am on Saturday morning but at some point during the flight to Abu Dhabi, the pilots told the passengers that the aircraft would actually be landing in Kuwait because the crew had reached the absolute limit of their legally permitted working hours.
As a result, the plane made a second unscheduled stopover in Kuwait so that a new set of pilots and cabin crew could board the plane for the final hour of the journey to Abu Dhabi.
This entire process, however, took nearly two hours, adding to the time that passengers had to endure on the aircraft. Finally, the flight arrived in Abu Dhabi at 5:30 am on Sunday.
At this point, many of the passengers onboard had missed connections to the Indian subcontinent and were then told they would have to wait hours for the next departure.
Etihad did offer hotel accommodation for these passengers but delays at immigration meant some were left waiting for hours in Abu Dhabi Airport until they were finally cleared.
In response to one complaint on Twitter, a spokesperson for Etihad said: “We totally understand that a change in your flight is not pleasant. Since the safety and comfort of our Guests and crew is our top priority, the flight was returned due to technical reasons.”
“Our teams have been working hard to get this fixed as quick as possible,” the statement continued.
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.