282 Air France passengers were stuck in Siberia for almost 3 days following a series of aircraft issues. Initially, the original aircraft flying from Paris to Shanghai developed issues during the flight and was forced to divert. Air France then sent a replacement aircraft which also suffered from technical issues. As such, the airline experienced third time lucky, when the next rescue aircraft they sent was able to successfully complete the flight. Here’s what happened:
Day 1: Diversion Due To Smoke Onboard
Passengers had boarded Air France flight 116 on Sunday hoping to arrive in Shanghai around 11 and a half hours later. Unfortunately, the aircraft was forced to divert the B777 when the crew noticed “an acrid smell and light smoke appeared on board”. After alerting the captain, the decision was made to land as a matter of urgency. The nearest suitable airfield was Irkutsk, located in Siberia.
The passengers deplaned the aircraft, upon which the police escorted them to a hotel which they were not allowed to leave. Likely because many of the passengers would not have held Russian visas given the spontaneity of their short stay.
Day 2: Replacement B777 Arrives
The next day things were looking up for the passengers. After their break in a Siberian hotel, a replacement aircraft was due to arrive in Irkutsk. Things quickly deteriorated, however, when the replacement B777 began to encounter problems. Due to various problems with the aircraft, it was unable to take off forcing the passengers to return to the hotel.
The buses carrying passengers travelled under a blue light police escort to the hotel where they had no access to their checked luggage, only their hand luggage. As a result, passengers were unable to change their clothes which may have been fairly light. The temperature in Irkutsk currently peaks at -10 degrees during the day. According to a passenger onboard, they were only offered low-quality food. Passengers reportedly had to pay extra for coffee, and decent food.
Day 3: Third Time Lucky
Finally, two days after arriving in Irkutsk a third Air France B777 arrived on the scene. Once again, passengers headed to the airport. Unsure of whether this aircraft would develop faults, or they would be stuck in police care in Siberia, the third time lucky rule pulled through. The third B777 flew for three and a half hours, eventually arriving in Shanghai at 12:45 local time on Wednesday. Interestingly, the original faulty B777 finally arrived back in Paris on Wednesday evening.
Upon arrival in Shanghai, the Air France passengers were finally reunited with their luggage. One passenger was reportedly unable to access medicine located in his baggage for those three days, serving as a reminder to always carry more than you think you need in your hand luggage.
What do you make of the passengers’ three-day Siberian ordeal? Let us know in the comments down below!