Virgin Atlantic passengers fainted on a sweltering plane that was ultimately cancelled – before their replacement flight was diverted to the wrong country in a string of nightmare delays.
Travelers, including families returning to London from Disney World in Florida, were left in the lurch when their transatlantic flight to Gatwick was cancelled over the busted air-conditioning two days ago.
But Friday’s replacement flight ended in chaos when the aircraft – which should have landed in London at 8: 10am – was diverted to Shannon in Ireland after reports of smoke in the cabin.
Just one of the desperately tired passengers, Tony Redfearn, told The Sun Online how those on the plane were now desperate to get home as the trip to London extended to at least 30 hours.
Describing the first, ultimately cancelled, flight, Tony said, “We sat on the tarmac for two hours before they cancelled the flight. They told us there was no air-conditioning on the flight and we had to get off. Paramedics had to enter the plane and remove passengers who had fainted due to the heat with the broken air-conditioning.”
The flight was full of hundreds of passengers, including many families who had visited Disney World Orlando, Tony said.
And today’s flight is the final straw for many, who are still waiting in Ireland for the plane to take them on the final leg of their journey.
Describing today’s flight, Tony said, “Nobody really knows what happened, it was all happening in the cockpit.”
“The pilots were really professional, they didn’t say anything to panic us but you could tell they were worried,” he added. “They were quite calm about it.”
Tony, an entrepreneur who had travelled to the US for a 10 day holiday, added travelers were “resigned” to the long haul journey home.
He said, “I live in Cornwall so I’ve got a four hour drive out of Gatwick after this.”
Tony claimed two pilots and a crew member had to be checked for smoke inhalation after it landed this morning.
Another passenger said they could smell smoke, added, “Everyone just wanted to know what was going on but the flight crew were brilliant. They went out of their way to make sure that everyone was OK.”
Fellow passenger Paul Albrecht, who lives in Florida, said, “The first thing that alerted me to something happening was the flight staff were sent to their post, they were all stood around and you know something’s not right.
“Nothing was said probably for an hour and a half then they informed us there had been smoke in the cabin,” he said.
He said the pilot told passengers he had made a mayday call during the flight, adding, “It was obviously extremely serious.”
Paul, 59, said his two week holiday to England had now been delayed.
The Airbus A330-300 jet was about an hour west of Ireland when the crew declared a mayday and requested permission to divert to Shannon.
The VS1050 aircraft was met by emergency vehicles as it arrived.