ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — More than 200 exhausted passengers were left stranded and frustrated in St. John's on Wednesday after a flight from Montreal to Germany made an emergency stop.
A representative from the St. John's international airport confirmed that a Lufthansa flight arrived slightly after 2 a.m.
Passenger Bob Burgess of Halifax said the unplanned landing was related to a passenger's death.
Lufthansa spokesman Tal Muscal confirmed that the aircraft landed in St. John's for a medical emergency and said a passenger was taken to the hospital, but could not confirm whether a death occurred.
Burgess said the early landing meant that passengers were unable to leave the plane until after 6 a.m., and they soon discovered that hotels were booked for a convention.
Lufthansa does not operate out of the St. John's airport, so there was no additional staff on the ground to facilitate accommodations — and crew onboard had to break for a legally mandated "rest period" before preparing the aircraft for departure Wednesday evening.
Muscal said the airline co-ordinated with airport staff to greet the passengers, but accommodations weren't available for the lengthy, unplanned stop.
"Unfortunately beyond that there was no way to accommodate them, and as you can imagine this was unexpected — the diversion occurred for medical reasons," Muscal said.
Muscal said emergency diversions do not usually involve compensation for other passengers.
Burgess said passengers were confused when they finally left the aircraft Wednesday morning, and received little information aside from the new departure time.
A replacement flight to Munich was scheduled to leave at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
"The poor tourism booth women and Air Canada check-in people, who had their own work to do, were saddled with hundreds of unexpected visitors and had no information to give them," Burgess said in an email.
School buses were arranged for passengers to tour the city in the meantime, but Burgess said there was some frustration amongst the tired travellers left on their own to find food and accommodation.
Burgess said the complaints may seem "petty" considering the medical reason for the emergency landing, but said he thought the day could have been handled better.
Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press