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Norwegian passengers suffer panic attacks during nightmare 10-hour Storm Eunice diversion

‘Having stayed on board for some seven hours without food and fresh air, passengers were desperate to get out,’ says customer

Lucy Thackray
Tuesday 22 February 2022 13:55 GMT
Flight D82766 was diverted to Copenhagen due to Storm Eunice
Flight D82766 was diverted to Copenhagen due to Storm Eunice (

Passengers aboard a Norwegian Air flight from Helsinki to London endured a nightmare experience on Friday, including two go-around attempts at landing, a diversion to Copenhagen and more than 10 hours stuck on the plane.

Journalist Natalia Golysheva Deis tweeted a thread about the horrific experience, describing how passengers were trapped on a plane for hours longer than planned, without much food, drink or assistance from airline staff.

With Storm Eunice playing havoc with landings at Gatwick Airport on Friday, Ms Deis’ Norwegian flight made two landing attempts in extreme turbulence, before circling around the South Downs and ultimately being diverted to Copenhagen.

Once the flight landed in the Danish capital - after a 2,777km journey and just under five hours in the air - Ms Deis says there was little assistance and confusing advice from Norwegian staff.

“Having spent five hours in the air, passengers, many of whom [are] kids, then are left in the aircraft for another two hours while @Fly_Norwegian tries to sort out what to do with them all. No food, drinks, help are offered,” the journalist, who is in the process of making an official complaint, wrote on Twitter.

“The crews were excellent, but they didn’t have enough supplies to give everyone food and drink,” Ms Deis told The Independent.

“If you went up and asked them, they would give you some, but it wasn’t like ‘How can we help you?’ Many of the passengers were families with kids.”

But more frustrating than the claustrophobic wait without food, drink or fresh air, she says, was the mixed messages from Norwegian staff on what would happen next.

Initially, a Norwegian rep told passengers that around 40 of them would have to stay in Copenhagen, with around 30 being transported to Stockholm, and the rest having to return to their point of departure, Helsinki.

Most passengers wanted to stay in Copenhagen, she says, causing tension between the already disgruntled group. Next, crew announced that all passengers would have to return to Helsinki.

“It was driving people mad, me especially. They kept changing the messages. It was really stressful - we didn’t feel like they were rooting for us. They kept saying ‘It’s not us, it’s Norwegian’ as if they didn’t also work for the airline,” she adds.

“A row started to brew, as having stayed on board for some seven hours without food and fresh air, passengers were desperate to get out,” says Ms Deis.

“Some started to have panic attacks, including myself. Police [were] called to the gate.”

Many passengers were anxious about another one hour 30 minute flight after seven hours on a plane in sometimes stormy and turbulent conditions, she says.

Then, the airline’s advice changed again.

“The captain then voices a new plan: anyone who wants to get out, is welcome to do so at their own expense and whoever chooses to do so, would not receive any help or compensation.

“You could feel the anxiety building among the passengers. I yelled at the captain who had told me we were free to leave with no help.

“I needed to lie down, perhaps see a doctor - sometimes when I have an anxiety attack, I end up in A&E. There was a mother with an autistic child - he was falling apart.”

She made the decision to leave the aircraft, along with several other passengers.

In fact, Ms Deis says she and around nine other travellers were assisted in finding accommodation in Copenhagen - contrary to staff’s advice while still on the aircraft - but many others who left had to sort things out themselves.

“About 15-20 others had to make their own arrangements, having essentially been lied to that there were no alternatives available. Basically those who were pushy enough got help.

“We met a young couple from Sheffield we met at baggage claim, who had [paid to make their own arrangements], before a Norwegian representative told them they would receive help.”

Norwegian booked Ms Deis a night at a hotel and allocating her a flight the following day.

Having left Helsinki at 9am on Friday, following the diversion, overnight and new flight, she did not arrive home until midday on Saturday.

She says that passengers returning to Helsinki had to wait a further 90 minutes after she left for luggage to be re-loaded.

“That comes to about 10 hours+ on the aircraft, without food, drink or air,” she says.

She feels that other staff were not helpful enough in the circumstances, given that some passengers had been panicky and several children had been sick during the initial flight’s turbulence.

The compensation given to most passengers was “unethical to say the least”, she adds.

“They breached their duty of care. You’re responsible for 170 people - they could have at least asked for some water and food.

“I know it’s a budget airline, but you could buy some stuff, if you don’t have it.”

Some other passengers suggested customers who had returned to Helsinki were left stranded without assistance finding accommodation.

Passenger Darren Trofimczuk agreed with Deis’s account, tweeting: “Today @Fly_Norwegian you let down 160 passengers on flight D82766.

“Despite the promise of helping passengers find hotels and a return flight to UK at the weekend. Passengers were dumped back in Helsinki nine hours later to fend for themselves! #letdown.”

My friends were on this flight. Still stuck in Helsinki with two young kids. No info forthcoming on when they can get on a flight home,” commented one of Trofimczuk’s followers.

“Pilots were great, but cabin crew did a poor job communicating. 160 people sat in Copenhagen for four hours with no food and not allowed off. Many kids in tears. Then dumped back in Helsinki with no hotel or return flights - despite promise by ground staff,” added Trofimczuk.

A challenging situation but dismal comms with many fams with small kids,” posted fellow passenger Moyeen Ahmad.

A spokesperson for Norwegian Air said: “Due to the bad weather condition across the UK, the aircraft was unable to land at Gatwick and had to divert to Copenhagen. The preferable option would be to get back to Helsinki, but due to heavy headwinds and the need to refuel after two landing attempts at Gatwick, we made the decision to divert to Copenhagen. The safety of our customers and crew is always our number one priority.

“All passengers on board were offered full coverage offering ticket changes with another airline free of charge. However, due to bad weather conditions and many fully booked flights out of Copenhagen this day, we were unfortunately not able to find any alternatives and returned to Helsinki.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience we know this caused our passengers. We continue to do everything we can to assist the passengers in this matter, and we will compensate accordingly.”

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