UA plane from LA to Sydney made emergency landing in American Samoa

United Airlines plane from LA to Sydney made emergency landing in American Samoa on New Year’s Eve – leaving 300 passengers spending the night ‘drinking beer on the beach as pilot bought shots and McDonald’s’

  • Passengers en route from US to Sydney stranded on American Samoa 
  • An engine issue forced United flight 839 to make landing at Pago Pago Airport 
  • A new aircraft was flown to the island to complete the multiday trip to Sydney 

A plane load of passengers traveling from LA to Sydney for the New Year saw their celebration hopes dashed when the plane was force to make an emergency landing in remote American Samoa, a chain of islands set between Hawaii and New Zealand.

Stranded for roughly 21 hours on the scenic isle of Tutuila, more than 300 United Airlines’ passengers reportedly received a tour of the island, drank beers on the beach, and enjoyed a fast food feast of Micky D’s.

Before catching another flight back to Sydney early Sunday, the plane’s pilot – who reportedly had to to circle the island hour hours as its runway does not sport lights – even bought the weary travelers shots in a show of apology.

The plane, identified as United flight 839, landed at Pago Pago Airport around midnight Friday, but was redirected to the islands – which are an American territory – Friday at 6:22am due to a mechanical issue, flight officials said.

More than 300 travellers were left stranded in scenic Pago Pago (pictured), where passengers spent 21 hours taking a tour of the island, drinking beers, and eating fast food

‘Today’s flight diverted to Pago Pago to address a mechanical issue,’ a statement from the airline Friday read. 

‘We’re making use of our facilities, including available hotel options, to accommodate our customers, and will fly in a new aircraft to the island so they can finish their trip to Sydney soon.’

Stranded in a setting that most would consider a paradise, passengers on the wayward flight reportedly found themselves without food when touching down in Pago Pago, Tutuila Island’s capital.

Relatives of passengers quickly took to Twitter to report in real-time on the situation, with many saying that those on board were being looked after by locals who luckily graciously received the travelers.

Relatives of passengers quickly took to Twitter to report in real-time on the situation, with many saying that those on board were being looked after by locals who luckily graciously received the travelers. Some, however, chided United for allowing the incident to happen

‘My daughter is now stranded,’ one man wrote at 7:22 pm Saturday, 13 hours into the flight’s strange saga. ‘They (passengers) showered at hanger, got (a) tour of island and (are) drinking beers on deserted beach.’

A few hours before, a woman wrote that her family – including her young granddaughters – had also been on the flight. She also said that the Samoan people were helping the passengers, but questioned why the airline was not the one addressing the issue.

She added that a replacement flight was expected in the early hours of New Year’s Day – meaning passengers would still miss the world famous firework celebrations at off the Sydney Harbor.

‘My son and granddaughters were on that flight,’ the woman wrote Friday at 4:42pm.

‘Just spoke with him and he said the Samoan ppl (sic) have been incredibly generous(as they always are ) and everyone is being looked after before their flight early tomorrow morning.’

The concerned mother proceeded to tag United on her post, asking the airline, ‘Why the silence?’

Someone else added that she had also heard from a family member on the plane that the native population, as well as the flight crew, were helping passengers out.

 ‘My daughter was on the flight too, she said the islanders and crew were amazing at looking after everyone. Thank goodness everyone is safe.’

Around 2,573 miles from Sydney, Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa, situated in the heart of Polynesia. 

Set in the South Pacific, it is unincorporated US territory, making it a popular destination for those looking for a passport-less getaway to a tropical island.

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