Passengers of an American Airlines flight from Miami to London were forced to wait some 20 hours in Bermuda after the aircraft was diverted due to a “possible mechanical issue,” including smoke that was reported in the cockpit, according to media accounts.
Angry vacationers returning to the United Kingdom posted photos online showing passengers sleeping on the floor of the Bermuda airport before dawn on Monday local time.
The passengers covered themselves with blankets taken from the plane because the air conditioned terminal was too cold, according to reports.
American Airlines told the British wire agency Press Association that a suspected mechanical issue forced the pilot to land the plane in Bermuda, which is a British island territory in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Flight AA38 bound for London’s Heathrow was diverted to Bermuda just three hours after taking off from Miami International Airport at around 7:30 pm local time on Sunday.
Stranded passengers waited some 20 hours inside the terminal at LF Wade International Airport in St. George’s before boarding a replacement flight to London.
According to the PA news agency, US federal labor regulations which required rest for the flight crew combined with local COVID-19 laws that did not allow passengers to leave the vicinity of the airport meant that the travelers needed to wait in Bermuda.
Passengers vented their frustrations as they were forced to wait some 10 hours before the airline provided them with food.
The airport facilities are quite meager as there were no available showers and the bathrooms had just eight working toilets.
Jonathan Lo, a 35-year-old UK resident, was returning home with his new fiancée, Laura Day, was “dozing off” during the flight when the captain told passengers there was “an indication of overhearing electronics.”
“A little later on it was backed up by a further announcement to say that, actually, they could smell smoke in the aircraft cockpit,” Lo told Birmingham World.
Lo said when the plane landed in Bermuda, it was “quite a dramatic scene” as fire trucks followed the aircraft as it was taxiing into the terminal. But that’s when the nightmare started.
After the passengers disembarked, they were notified three hours later that they would not be able to fly and would have to sleep at the airport.
It took until 12:30 pm local time for airport staff to provide the passengers with food. One Twitter user, who described being stuck in the airport as akin to “prisoner life,” posted video showing a plate of eggs and sausage that was served to one of the passengers.
“That’s a whole whopping 10 hours after people have landed with children and were really hungry,” Lo said.
“(We feel) abandoned by the airline really… literally in the middle of the Atlantic.”
Lo said that tempers flared as passengers – many of whom had to be at work that morning – vented their frustration.
They waited until Monday evening when they boarded a replacement flight to London. The plane landed safely at Heathrow on Tuesday morning, according to British media.
“American Airlines flight 38, from Miami (MIA) to London (LHR), diverted to Bermuda (BDA) this morning after a possible mechanical issue,” American Airlines said in a statement.
“We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans, and we apologize for the trouble this has caused.”