United Airlines Passengers Trapped On Canadian Runway For 14 Hours After Plane Doors Froze Shut

A United Airlines plane
Scott Olson / Getty Images

Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Hong Kong found themselves stuck on a runway in Canada after their flight was forced to land for medical reasons and then the doors to the plane froze.

According to a CNN report, the United flight departed Newark as scheduled at 3:05 p.m. EST on Saturday. But about 5.5 hours into the flight, a passenger became ill on board, and the flight was rerouted to Goose Bay Airport in Newfoundland, Canada.

It landed in Canada at 9:31 p.m. and the sick passenger was taken off and ferried to a nearby hospital. But that was when the problems began for the rest of the people on board. A mechanical issue with one of the plane’s doors meant that it was unable to take off again.

The right wing emergency door was believed to have been affected by the minus 20-degree temperatures outside and malfunctioned. However, because there were no customs officers on duty at the airport overnight, the passengers were unable to disembark and wait inside the airport building while repairs were carried out.

One passenger on the plane, Steven Lau, tweeted the scenes after a couple of hours sitting on the tarmac.

A little later on he added, “Also not a great sign when the mechanic who was called to fix the problem then gets on his phone to call for more support.”

Another passenger, professional wrestler Sonjay Dutt, who was trying to get to Macau for an EWE Wrestling event, began tweeting the official United Airlines handle after being trapped on the plane for about 10 hours. He begged them to send help saying that food supplies onboard the plane were running short.

“Please help us. This is an emergency @united. People are not doing well. Running low on food,” he tweeted, before adding, “It’s freezing, not safe for children and elderly. Please help @united.”

After being trapped on board for around 12 hours, officials from Goose Bay Airport finally arrived on board. They distributed food from Tim Horton and water to the passengers and at around 7 a.m. Those on board were finally able to get off the plane in groups of 15 to 20 to go and stretch their legs inside the terminal.

United finally laid on a rescue plane to take those affected back to Newark, but that plane didn’t arrive back in New Jersey until 6 p.m. on Sunday, a full 27 hours after the passengers had initially taken off.