One does not associate fog with the desert kingdom of Abu Dhabi. Last weekend, chaos hit the capital when fog blanketed it for hours. There was a 19-car pile-up on on Saturday morning which left three people injured. The airport saw 20 flights cancelled and thousands of passengers stranded.
One flight EY183 to San Francisco sat on the tarmac for 12 hours before its 16 hour journey! In other words, passengers sat inside that metal tube for 28 hours.Another, EY023 to Dusseldorf, Germany was kept on the tarmac for 13 hours. It was then forced to make an emergency landing in Vienna when a 73-year-old male passenger died mid-flight. The plane finally landed in Dusseldorf 30 hours after its scheduled arrival time.
The airline commented “During the time on the ground, awaiting permission to takeoff, Etihad Airways provided passengers with refreshments and information about the reasons for the delay.”
Passengers were told that the airport was too crowded with other stranded flights to allow them to get off the plane to wait. Surely, they could have found a way around this so they could de-plane the passengers? The USA has a four hour rule. European Union have a compensation policy which provides up to €600 to passengers whose flights have been cancelled or delayed.
Etihad has promised to review its procedures: “We are to review our policies on the length of time aircraft can remain on the ground, with passengers aboard, while waiting for a takeoff slot.”
In the meantime, be warned about flying through Abu Dhabi.