Delhi-bound KLM Boeing 787-10 Makes U-Turn Over Russia

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A journey home turned sour for over 100 Indian citizens. On March 20th, a KLM Boeing 787-10 took off from Amsterdam en route to New Delhi, India. However, after a few hours in the air, the aircraft made a U-turn and returned to Amsterdam. The reason was due to miscommunication and gaps in information.

KLM 787-10
A KLM Boeing 787-10 en route to Delhi had to make a U-turn over Russia. Photo: KLM

Returning to Amsterdam

KL871 is a regularly scheduled flight from Amsterdam to New Delhi. This is the only nonstop flight between the Netherlands and the Indian capital city. On March 20th, this flight turned into a nightmare for the 100 plus Indian citizens onboard the aircraft. And, at the other end of the flight, it left passengers in Delhi seeking a return to the Netherlands.

KLM 787
The flight turned into a harrowing encounter for Indian citizens. Photo: KLM

A few hours into the flight, the Boeing 787-10 made a U-turn. Just over four hours into the flight, while the aircraft was over Russia, the plane turned around and diverted back to Amsterdam according to data from Flightradar24.

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According to The Times of India, the core of the issue was conflicting information about whether the flight had permission to land in Delhi. India has issued a blanket ban on travelers coming from abroad– including Europe and the UK. However, it appears that on this flight, all passengers were Indian citizens transiting in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

KLM Delhi U-Turn
The aircraft made a U-turn about 4 hours into the flight. Photo: Flightradar24

Getting the passengers home

Unfortunately, after landing in Amsterdam, there was no direct flight available for passengers to head home. Instead, on March 22nd, KLM will operate a special Boeing 787-10 flight, KL869, from Amsterdam to New Delhi as reported in The Hindu. For those reading on the same day as the flight, the journey can be tracked here.

KLM 787
KLM will fly another 787-10 to Delhi with these passengers on Sunday, March 22nd. Photo: KLM

What went wrong?

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a lot of information to change rapidly. Airlines are near-constantly altering their flight schedules and attempting to reduce as much disruption as possible. In this case, it appears that gaps in information led to the unfortunate situation. A denied disembarkation in Delhi would have forced KLM to fly those passengers back to Amsterdam. We saw this clearly in the case of a Korean Air flight in Israel.

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On the other hand, it is unclear exactly what transpired between KLM and the Indian government that led to this U-turn. There appears to be limited reason for the Indian government to have denied this aircraft. While the plane itself was coming from Amsterdam, the passengers were Indian citizens seeking to return home from abroad through a transit at Amsterdam Schiphol. There were also no reports of any infected passengers onboard the aircraft.

KLM aircraft in Schiphol. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Amid the ongoing pandemic, governments around the world are working to return their citizens home. This includes operating rescue flights to repatriate citizens from around the world.

Overall

Until further information is available, it appears that both sides suffered from a misunderstanding that left the passengers stuck in the middle. Thankfully, KLM is now operating a special flight to fly these passengers to New Delhi.

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What do you make of this situation? Were you onboard this Delhi-bound KLM Boeing 787-10? What happened? Let us know in the comments!

Simple Flying reached out to KLM for comment who were unavailable immediately. This article will be updated appropriately.

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Kristian

Well it’s nothing strange. India started to ban even Indian nationals coming from the EU. Maybe this information was discovered too late by KLM at AMS.

Mario Alboniga

Are you sure it wasn’t a UAC MC-21?
They all look the same…. MC-21 have twin engines! Or…. Airbus A350? What do you think?

Mario

Are you sure it wasn’t a UAC MC-21?
They all look the same…. MC-21 have twin engines! Or…. Airbus A350? What do you think?

Andi

Absolute stupidity, but Indians are involved.

DLip

Level of understanding of our government circulars English legal language is difficult to extract correct information for Europeans and Americans. Instructions to airlines should be in simple language and with detailed clarification needed to avoid such misunderstandings.

tarun

The indian governement had passed clear instruction no incoming traveller from Europe .
Including Indian citizen unless they had COVID 19 test negative.
The passengers did not ahve the certification and KLM flouted rules and directions of Indian Government.

tarun durga

The indian governement had passed clear instruction no incoming traveller from Europe .
Including Indian citizen unless they had COVID 19 test negative.
The passengers did not ahve the certification and KLM flouted rules and directions of Indian Government.

tar

The indian governement had passed clear instruction no incoming traveller from Europe .
Including Indian citizen unless they had COVID 19 test negative.
The passengers did not ahve the certification and KLM flouted rules and directions of Indian Government.

Alonzo Terry

Thanks for the update and article.
I was scheduled to fly out of New Delhi on Saturday morning March 21. When I arrived at the airport, KLM cancel the flight , because of the mix-up with the India government.It left all the passengers in New Delhi going to Amsterdam scrambling get out before they closed the border. I was very fortunate to change my flight to an air France flight.But many people were not as Fortune as I was. Because of your article, I understood what happened. It was a miracle, how was able to get Air France to change my ticket from KLM to Air France. Many of the people left , we’re stranded until the border reopen.
Thanks for bringing this to the light. Many Americans are stranded all over the globe. Hopefully this article will shed some light regarding the importance of governments and airlines working together to ensure their citizens from every countries are taking care of.

Thanks

Gopal

the ban was in place since last 12 days, was KLM sleeping !!

Neer

Indian govt. is having some political issues with Malaysia, so the Indian authorities must have thought of it to be an apt time to teach a lesson to Malaysia which actually backfired.

Ferdinand

It is a heartless decision to turn away a flight and then relenting later.