The Horror Of Spending 33 Hours Trapped On An Airplane

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Gizmodo Australia's Luke Hopewell was on a flight from New York to Hong Kong the other day. It should have been a long, but comfortable trip. Instead, it became something out of a survival story. The flight from hell.


Having made 99% of the trip just fine, storms over Hong Kong meant the flight couldn't land at its intended destination, so the pilot figured the next best thing would be to land at a nearby regional airport Zhuhai. It was not.

First, the storms soon hit Zhuhai, meaning the plane couldn't move off the runway. Then the crew hit their limit of hours worked before a mandatory rest period kicked in. Then the Chinese government told them they weren't allowed off the plane, because the regional airport didn't have international customs agents, and it was now night-time, so none could be ferried over from Hong Kong.

The Chinese government refused repeated requests to let them even stretch their legs on the tarmac, and even said no to Cathay Pacific flying in a replacement flight.

By now the plane was out of food, water and auxiliary power, Luke having to subside on a packet of Oreos and a single bottle of water for 16 hours. Also note that the aircraft's garbage bins were by now long overflowing.

Two other things running out were passenger's sanity and fresh air. For an hour the front door was opened to allow the latter in, before the Chinese government ordered it closed again.

Surviving on the aforementioned biscuits, water, iOS games and some Doctor Who, the flight eventually took off in the morning, landing in Hong Kong 33 hours after it had left New York. For their troubles, the passengers were handed a compensatory gift of...USD$130. And a dinner party story for the ages.


The next time you're stuck on a flight, and think a sore butt and bad food are the worst of your problems, remember this.

How I Survived The 33-Hour Flight From Hell [Lifehacker AU]