Stuck On The Plane Forever

October 12, 2007

in Airplane Stories

Earlier this year I took a flight to Australia with United. It’s a flight I’ve taken a few times over. On this particular occasion, after a couple of hours layover in LAX, I took the flight to Australia. Approaching Sydney, the flight attendant told us that the weather would not allow us to land and we would need to be diverted to Brisbane. After 13 1/2 hours in the cramped United seating (this airline seems particularly cost conscious when they designed the seating on the 747), we arrived in Brisbane.

The plane waited on the tarmac for 3 hours before Sydney had cleared us to return to our original destination. Unfortunately, union contract rules for pilots did not allow our current pilot to finish the flight to Sydney, and since we flew in on a 747, the nearest pilot had to be flown from Sydney to Brisbane. We waited another 3 hours for the pilot and new flight crew to arrive. Meanwhile, the customs officials required us to stay on the plane the entire time because Brisbane did not have the facilities or the sanctions to allow foreigners on Australian soil. Out of food, very low on water, and sleep deprived, we finally took off for Sydney. Three hours later we landed.

So, the next time you feel like your flight is long, remember this story and being stuck on a plane for 22 1/2 hours.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Mama April 9, 2009 at 6:00 am

I've been on a 747 for about 23 hours or longer. When I left Clark AB in the Philippines, we flew to Kadena AB, Japan, to Anchorage AK, then to LAX, then to St. Louis. I then took another plane from St. Louis to Wichita, KS. That was the longest flight of my life, but at least they did let us get off the plane in Anchorage & stretch our legs, though we weren't allowed to go far due to us not having been processed through customs.


Anonymous May 6, 2009 at 1:15 pm

I find the customs comment suspect. My brother went to Australia on a school rugby trip(we live in Canada)and they landed in Brisbane. That was the Spring of '06. Although I must sympathize about being stuck on a plane for 22 1/2 hours. That's gotta suck.


Laura Cardwell May 28, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Australia has the most brutal customs policies!


Elisa July 9, 2009 at 7:05 am

Um, brutal? We like the fact we have no rabies here and so on… we're unique in the world in having so many species found nowhere else, so we have to be far more vigilant at customs than most other countries. We simply don't know what species might be wiped out if we relaxed the rules.


Mark December 1, 2009 at 7:51 pm

@Laura Cardwell

Yes, we have brutal customs. We also have the most brutally environmentally diverse, interesting and valuable range of flora and fauna.

To let one moron with bananas and their other selection of $2 worth of food, or perhaps $2B worth of destruction into our country would be pretty silly now, wouldn't it?


random22 June 20, 2010 at 3:03 pm



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