More than 300 travelers on United flight 839 are believed to remain at Pago Pago International Airport after the pilot had to land the plane unexpectedly due to an engine issue.
The plane landed at the airport which is located seven miles southwest of the central business district of Pago Pago, in the village and plains of Tafuna on the island of Tutuila.
United Airlines said arrangements were being made to accommodate the plane passengers on the island.
A statement from the airline read: “Today’s flight diverted to Pago Pago to address a mechanical issue.
“We’re making use of our facilities, including available hotel options, to accommodate our customers, and will fly in a new aircraft to the island so they can finish their trip to Sydney soon.”
But it isn’t all bad news as the passengers – who were travelling from Los Angeles – were treated with a trip to a beach and beers, which actually sounds like an idyllic way to ring in the new year.
Family members of the stranded passengers have taken to Twitter to shed light on how they’re being cared for on the island.
“My daughter is now stranded,” one man on Twitter shared. “They (passengers) showered at hanger, got tour of island and drinking beers on deserted beach.”
Members of the crew onboard noticed a potential oil leak in an engine of the Boeing 787-9, The Guardian reports.
The replacement aircraft was scheduled to depart Pago Pago at 3am on 31 December (local time) and arrive in Sydney at 7.15am on 1 January, meaning passengers would miss out on a New Year’s countdown in the Australian city.
The replacement plane that United Airlines has sent – which flies as #UA3032 – not yet arrived on the island, Airlive reports.
Because American Samoa is to the east of the international dateline, passengers would not have a midnight on 31 December. Not long after take off, they’d find themselves in the early hours of 2023, shortly after 4am on Sunday, 1 January.
A grandmother, Leonie Butta, tracked the flight as her 30-year-old son and two granddaughters were onboard. They were travelling from Vancouver to Sydney.
Butta praised the decision to land the plane on American Samoa land and told The Guardian that her son’s experience on the island had been ‘pleasant’.
“Samoan people are just brilliant. Apart from being one of the most beautiful countries in the world, they’ll just say, come right into our home,” she told The Guardian.
“They’ve brought them food, found them somewhere to stay with a pool, and my son was saying they even brought them beer.
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