Plane forced to refuel after taxiing New York runway for six hours without flying anywhere

United Airlines flight was eventually cancelled, almost nine hours after passengers boarded

Aisha Rimi
Tuesday 23 August 2022 22:20 BST
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A United Airlines flight due to journey from Newark to Denver taxied for so long on a New York runway, it was forced to refuel.

The plane stayed on the runway for more than six hours, before returning to the terminal as it “no longer had enough fuel for the whole trip”, a United spokesperson told The Independent.

The flight was initially unable to take-off as planned due to poor weather conditions.

New York Times reporter Hiroko Tabuchi shared her experience of the distrastrous flight, which was eventually cancelled, on social media.

After the lengthy delay on the tarmac, passengers were told to disembark the plane when it returned to the gate so that it could be refuelled before reboarding, Ms Tabuchi reported.

However, once they had deplaned, passengers received an alert on the United app notifying them that the flight had been cancelled – but were then told by staff at Newark to reboard.

Cabin crew and pilots were left just as confused as passengers when Ms Tabuchi showed them the alert she had received from the airline, she claimed.

Despite the mixed messages, passengers were finally seated on the plane and ready for takeoff once again. However, they were met with further delays and remained on the tarmac for another two hours.

“Oh my god, after 8.5 hours on the tarmac at Newark, and disembarking/reembarking/refueling the plane, the flight is a no-go,” tweeted Ms Tabuchi.

“We are heading back to the gate a final time. This time, it’s the crew – they’ve clocked out. ‘I’ve run out of apologies,’ the pilot just told us.”

Passengers were reportedly given only a cup of water and a “tiny packet of those Biscoff cookies” throughout the eight and a half hour delay.

Ms Tabuchi recalls it took another half an hour to get to the gate and disembark again, with passengers sat on the aircraft, not going anywhere, for a total of nine hours, “burning fuel the whole time”.

She eventually flew out to Denver from Philadelphia the following morning, after taking an Amtrak train to the city.

The average taxi time in the US is between 16 and 27 minutes, accounting for five per cent of a flight’s fuel consumption.

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