Japan short-haul flight turns into 16-hour saga

time:2023-05-31 02:47:41 source:The New York Times

Passengers on a short-haul flight in Japan were flown back to their departure city after an airport barred their plane from landing because it missed curfew by 10 minutes.

Japan Airlines flight JL 331 left Tokyo for Fukuoka on 19 February with a 90-minute delay due to a plane switch.

It was just minutes from landing when it was turned away by the airport for missing a 22:00 cut-off time.

The plane then had to circle until it found an airport that would receive it.

At first the flight attempted to land at an airport in Kitakyushu, a city close to Fukuoka. However, as the airline later explained, the plane was rejected because buses could not be organised to ferry the 335 passengers to a hotel.

Similarly, passengers also could not disembark when the plane diverted to Osaka's Kansai Airport to refuel, because hotels could not be organised.

Ultimately, the plane flew back to Tokyo where passengers had to board again the following day.

Passengers online said their planned two-hour flight had turned into 16-hour ordeal. But they said they had been well compensated by the airline.

One passenger on Twitter said they were given a boarding pass replacement, 20,000 yen ($148; £123) in cash and water during the night at the hotel.

The original destination, Fukuoka Airport, has a flight ban policy between 22:00 and 07:00 because of nearby residential areas.

Officials said they had allowed planes to land after the airport shutdown time if the delay is unavoidable. Such events include bad weather or runway congestion, The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported.

But officials did not regard the flight's delay as unavoidable, the newspaper said.

Flight data showed that other flights were allowed to land past the cut-off time that evening. Due to strong winds at Tokyo's Haneda airport earlier in the day other flights were also delayed.

Flight JL 331 was the only one rejected, Bloomberg reported.

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