Plane takes off and circles Gatwick for two hours before returning

Vueling flight VY6227 was apparently over-filled and had to burn surplus fuel

Passengers forced to crawl over conveyor belt after waiting hours for luggage

Passengers aboard a Sunday night flight from London Gatwick to Rome spent two hours flying in low-altitude holding patterns over southern England after an apparent mix-up over fuel.

Vueling flight VY6227 took off from the Sussex airport at 9.32pm, around half-an-hour behind schedule, and was expected to arrive in the Italian capital shortly before 1am, local time.

Instead, the Airbus A320, with around 170 passengers on board, touched down again at Gatwick two hours after take-off.

The Independent has asked Vueling to explain the circumstances. No response has been received so far.

One social media user, Francesco Ricci, tweeted: “After five minutes from the take off the pilot found out there was too much fuel on the plane so it couldn’t [climb] high (because of the weight) now they are back in Gatwick and removing the unnecessary fuel.”

Data from Flightradar24 shows the Airbus A320 apparently taking off normally to the west then turning left to head south.

But just four minutes later, at a height of around one mile, the plane changed course and entered a holding pattern for more than 30 minutes at an altitude of 5,900 feet, just 15 miles south of Gatwick.

The six-year-old Airbus then flew southwest towards Portsmouth and climbed slightly to 8,000 feet for over an hour of circuits between the Solent and the Channel south of Worthing.

Finally the aircraft began an approach to Gatwick, landing at 11.33pm.

During the incident “Reggie P”, who was apparently a passenger, tweeted to ask: “Are passengers on flight VY6227/VLG6WK able to go to the toilet as it has been holding below 10,000ft for the last two hours?

“Surely this is against Human rights article 3.”

Article three of the Human Rights Act 1998 states: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

It is not clear what arrangements were made for passengers to continue their journeys. They appear to be entitled to compensation of £220 per person for the delay.

The aircraft involved, registered as EC-MKM, later took off from Gatwick at 6.10am on Monday morning for Barcelona, as scheduled.

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