8 travel disasters that left passengers stranded


Wow Air announced Thursday that it has ceased operations and cancelled all flights. Stranded passengers described “pandemonium” at airport gates as they scrambled to make alternative arrangements.

Unfortunately, it’s not the first time that travellers have gotten stuck.

Here are eight times that travel disasters left passengers stranded.


Budget airline Wow Air halted operations on Thursday, stranding thousands of passengers worldwide.

Vytautas Kielaitis/ ShutterstockWow Air.

Business Insider previously reported that the 7-year-old Icelandic carrier, known for its bright purple planes and super affordable ticket prices, had been struggling with debt and laying off employees. On Thursday it announced that it had cancelled all flights. Wow Air CEO SkĂșli Mogensen said that over 1,000 passengers have been affected and it’s not yet known how many tickets are no longer valid, CNN reported.


Over 1,300 passengers were left stranded Saturday when the Viking Sky cruise ship experienced engine trouble in stormy waters off of Norway’s coast.

Svein Ove Ekornesvaag/Contributor/Getty ImagesThe Viking Sky cruise ship.

The ship ran into engine troubles Saturday in an area off the Norwegian coast known for difficult-to-navigate, frigid waters, according to the Associated Press. The crew issued a mayday call Saturday afternoon and was forced to moor in Hustadvika Bay, between the western Norwegian cities of Alesund and Trondheim.

Five helicopters worked through the night to rescue passengers in small groups while battling high winds and freezing temperatures.

Passengers’ accounts from aboard the ship include falling furniture, calling loved ones to say goodbye, and huge waves.


Passengers on a diverted United Airlines flight sat on the plane for 14 hours in January 2019.

A United Airlines flight from Newark to Hong Kong was diverted to Goose Bay Airport inNewfoundland and Labrador when a passenger had a medical emergency, CNN reported. Before the plane could continue to its final destination, it experienced a mechanical issue and remained grounded for the next 14 hours. Passengers weren’t allowed to get off the plane because there wasn’t a customs officer on duty. One of the plane doors was also broken in negative 20 degree temperatures.

Airport workers brought Tim Hortons to passengers on the plane when food ran low. Fourteen hours later, passengers were allowed off the plane and rebooked.


Ryanair cancelled 400,000 passengers’ flights in 2017 due to scheduling errors.

Ryanair’s flight cancellations were caused by a backlog of staff vacation days due at the end of the year. Ryanair said it had to allocate pilots’ leave time to September and October to accommodate everyone’s days off.People were left stranded abroad in the wave of cancellations, and impacted customers were offered vouchers.


The world’s busiest airport lost power eight days before Christmas in 2017.

Due to a fire in a Georgia Power underground electrical facility, 1,180 flights in and out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta were canceled in December 2017 when the airport lost power, CNN reported.

Planes were stuck on the tarmac for seven hours. Inside the dark airport, people used their phone flashlights.

The Federal Aviation Administration declared a ground stop, bringing all Atlanta-bound flights to a halt. About 30,000 people were affected by the outage.


An engine fire on a Carnival cruise ship left passengers and crew stranded off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula for nearly a week in 2013.

The ship’s fire extinguishing system put out the fire and prevented a deadly disaster, but 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members were left adrift for almost a week.

CNN reported that the ship lost power and that toilets, elevators, and air conditioning stopped working, resulting in “sewage running down the walls and floors.”

Tugboats towed the cruise ship to Mobile, Alabama, for rescue.


One month later, another Carnival cruise lost power.

In March 2013, toilets and elevators stopped working halfway through a seven-day cruise on the Carnival Dream, leaving 4,300 passengers and 1,300 crew members stuck on the ship in the Caribbean, CNN reported.

“There’s human waste all over the floor in some of the bathrooms and they’re overflowing – and in the staterooms,” passenger Gregg Stark told CNN of the incident.

Carnival cruise lines had to fly passengers back to Florida. They received a three-day refund and a half-price cruise in the future.


Zoom Airlines left around 4,500 British passengers stranded when it ceased operations in 2008.

The Guardian reported that in total, 40,000 customers in the UK and Canada were affected. Zoom cited rising oil prices as the source of the company’s financial difficulties.

Stranded passengers said they were told flight delays were due to “mechanical failures” until they were eventually instructed to get off the plane and found police waiting at the gate.

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