Think You've Had a Bad Flight Delay? Talk to These Folks

Passengers on an Air France flight to Shanghai got stuck in Siberia for 3 days
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2018 10:40 AM CST
Air France planes are parked on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle Airport, near Paris, on April 7, 2018.   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

(Newser) – Bad: your flight making an emergency landing due to smoke in the cabin. Worse: being holed up for three days in a place that wasn't your original destination. Worst of all: that place being one of the farthest reaches of Russia. That was the plight of nearly 300 passengers flying from Paris to Shanghai on an Air France flight, a scenario worthy of a made-for-TV movie that Radio Free Europe has already dubbed "Sleepless in Siberia." The nightmare on Flight 116 began Sunday with smoke and "acrid smell" in the cabin, per the New York Times, and the plane diverted to Irkutsk, which is more than 2,500 miles east of Moscow. After holding tight on the tarmac for six hours, passengers were finally allowed to disembark, but because they didn't have entry visas, they were limited to the airport and two nearby hotels.

They weren't allowed to get to their luggage at first; the Siberian Times notes many "were dressed in light autumn clothes." Then, a second plane sent to get them out of there broke down before takeoff due to a frozen hydraulic system. The passengers had to disembark once again. They tried to make the best of it—some hung out at a pub in one of the hotels and posted a parody video from their newly made-up TV series called "Stuck in Siberia"—but their irritation was clear. "We are dirty, we smell bad, it's now more than 30 hours that we're under house arrest without suitcases or passports," a passenger tweeted at one point. Air France offered its apologies via a statement, noting it "regrets this exceptional situation." A third plane finally got them to Shanghai on Wednesday. (This woman, on the other hand, had the "best flight delay ever.")

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