An Air New Zealand flight bound for Shanghai from Auckland was turned around mid-flight after it was discovered the aircraft didn’t have permission to land in China.
The aircraft left Auckland as scheduled just after 11:45pm on Saturday, but passengers were alerted by the pilot four and a half hours later that their plane would be flown back to New Zealand.
A passenger on the flight, assistant professor at NYU Shanghai, Eric Hundman, tweeted details of the incident.
“I’ve just experienced a new level of China Bad: midway through our flight, the pilot informs us that Chinese authorities had not given this plane permission to land, so we needed to turn around. A permitting issue, supposedly,” Hundman wrote.
When asked about the reaction of the passengers, Hundman said he could only speak for the business class cabin, in which the other passengers seemed shocked, but not furious.
“Everyone stayed very patient and calm as Air NZ kept us in a line waiting for vouchers to be issued after we disembarked, for instance,” he said.
— Eric Hundman | 何諳銳 (@ehundman) February 9, 2019
The flight landed in Auckland at about 10am on Sunday, an Air NZ spokeswoman said.
Hundman said those who had visas to enter New Zealand were offered a hotel room for the day, $30 in vouchers for food at the airport and a taxi voucher.
“Upon checking in at the hotel I learned they had given us money for lunch and dinner here, as well,” he said.
Air NZ had since texted passengers and said the flight had been rescheduled and would fly to Shanghai on Sunday night at 11pm.
An Air NZ spokeswoman confirmed NZ289 returned to Auckland around four and a half to five hours into its journey after it was discovered a technicality meant the particular aircraft operating this service did not have regulatory authority to land in China.
“The flight landed back in Auckland around 10 this morning and customers will be accommodated for the day at hotels or at the airport’s Strata Lounge before they depart for Shanghai on a special service at 11 this evening,” she said.
“We know customers will be deeply disappointed and frustrated by this situation and we are very sorry for the disruption to their travel plans.”
Air NZ did not respond to enquires about how frequently this happens, nor how many passengers were affected by the incident.
This article originally appeared on Stuff.co.nz. Read the original here.
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