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United Airlines flight to Venice aborted after passengers notice fuel gushing from wing

Crew had not noticed the fuel streaming from the plane

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 15 June 2017 10:46 BST
Passenger films fuel gushing from tank of United Airlines flight

Footage has emerged of fuel gushing from a tank of a United Airlines flight preparing to take off from New York to Venice.

Rachel Brumfield was a passenger in a window seat on the Boeing 767 at Newark airport. While the jet was taxiing to the runway, she and her husband, Mike, saw fuel pouring from a tank in the port wing.

United Airlines flight 170 had left the gate at 7.12pm for the 4,146-mile flight to Venice. It appears the fuel was leaking from the reserve tank towards the end of the port wing.

Ms Brumfield told the New York Post that her husband ran to alert flight attendants, but was yelled at to sit down. When cabin crew looked for themselves, they told the pilots, who called the fire service.

The flight was cancelled, and passengers and their baggage were offloaded.

The couple say they were offered champagne and invited to the flight deck, where they showed the footage to the pilots. “They just looked at the video and they all kind of looked at each other, like, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this’,” she said.

They say they were not provided with a hotel room, and instead slept on the floor of the baggage reclaim area.

A spokesman for United told The Independent: "While taxiing to the runway, United flight 170 travelling from Newark to Venice, Italy returned to the gate due to a fuel leak and was later cancelled.

"We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience. Our team at Newark supplied meal vouchers and worked to provide customers with overnight hotel accommodation. They also re-accommodated customers on alternative flights.

Passengers who were booked on the cancelled inbound flight from Venice to New York are entitled to €600 in compensation, but those on the flight with the fuel leak have no statutory right to recompense.

United faced worldwide criticism in April after a passenger was dragged from an overbooked flight waiting to depart from Chicago airport.

After the fiasco, Oscar Munoz, the airline’s chief executive, said: “Every customer deserves to be treated with the highest levels of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect.”

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