United Airlines has come under fire after passengers on a diverted flight were put up in military barracks while the crew stayed in hotels.
The flight from Chicago to London with 176 passengers was diverted to Goose Bay, Canada, for mechanical reasons.
Passengers spent Friday night in a military barracks and some tweeted that it was not heated and they were denied access to their checked luggage.
By contrast, the 11 crew on United Flight 958 - three pilots and eight flight attendants - stayed in hotels in the Goose Bay area.
United said hotel accommodation was not available for all of the passengers, which is why they spent the night at a local military base.
“They put them in cots,” a United spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal. “It was not ideal.”
The 767-300 was diverted to a military airport in Newfoundland and Labrador after a maintenance issue, which the spokeswoman described as an unexplained vibration in the aircraft.
In addition to the overnight accommodation, passengers were provided meals.
A replacement United 767-300 was flown to Goose Bay on Saturday, carrying a fresh crew, a team of mechanics and customer service agents, United said.
Passengers were then flown to Newark on Saturday night where they continued onto London with a third crew, landing on Sunday afternoon local time.
But an existing Newark-London flight was cancelled on Saturday night to make way for the passengers from Goose Bay.
United has a limited number of take-off and landing slots at Heathrow, so it was unable to operate an extra flight.
The airline said it tried to accommodate as many passengers as it could on the new flight for the diverted travellers, but the overflow group was bumped off and those passengers spent the night in hotels before being flown out on Sunday on other flights.
United added that it is refunding the passengers’ one-way tickets to London, as well as providing other compensation.
A spokeswoman said all of the original 176 passengers made the delayed trip.
“We apologise to our customers for the disruption, and we recognise this was a considerable inconvenience, so we will be refunding their tickets to London and providing additional compensation,” she said.
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