Plane flies for seven hours only to end up back in same spot

Inside the Doomsday Plane

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More than 300 passengers on a domestic flight in Japan endured a seven-hour ordeal in which they missed a curfew and were sent on a circuitous journey back to its starting location. Japan Airlines Co. flight JL331 was scheduled to depart Tokyo’s Haneda Airport at 6.30pm local time on Sunday for the two-hour flight to Fukuoka. Despite concerns that it would land too late and miss the 10pm cut-off for commercial airlines, take-off was delayed for 90 minutes due to a last-minute jet transfer. As the flight approached Fukuoka, it became evident that it would miss the airport’s deadline.

The 335 passengers on Japan Airlines’ flight JL331 boarded a nightmare seven-hour journey in Japan, with last-minute delays and severe weather conditions – preventing them from reaching their final destination on time.

The flight was expected to arrive in Fukuoka with four minutes to spare once it was finally in the air but narrowly missed the deadline.

Additional delays and strong winds stopped JL331 from landing. Airport officials did not consider the reason for the delay – the plane transfer – to be “unavoidable”. The plane was forced to return to Tokyo.

The passengers’ nightmare did not end there as the aircraft was once more diverted to Kansai International Airport in the Osaka area at 11.59pm. Lack of staff and available transport forced passengers to board yet another plane.

Two hours later, the aircraft took off from Kansai at 1.56am, returning to Japan’s capital at 2.44am, after a seven-hour nightmare flight.

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They weren’t the only ones who recently took a flight to nowhere.

An Air New Zealand Ltd. flight from Auckland to New York was forced to return home about halfway through its nearly 9,000-mile journey last week after a power outage at John F. Kennedy International Airport disrupted operations. The plane returned to Auckland about 16 hours after taking off.

One unlucky JL331 passenger tweeted a photo of the plane’s route, showing it performing a large U-turn near Fukuoka.

The airline claimed to have paid for hotels and taxis. One passenger, who stated that he received 20,000 yen (£123) in cash and a replacement flight, seemed upbeat about the situation. “I’m just relieved it wasn’t a plane crash,” they said.

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