MANILA, Philippines - “I’ve never seen anything like this in my 33 years in aviation,” the pilot announced to passengers onboard EVA Air BR 261 that flew from Taipei to Manila last August 18 at 8:30 pm – a flight that was on-schedule, that is, until we landed in NAIA.
For nearly 6 hours, we were stuck in the plane waiting to disembark.
I was in Taiwan for an Asus coverage when I heard about the incident involving the Xiamen Air plane that went off the runway. Despite NAIA announcing that they were resuming operations in the morning of my flight back to Manila, I was expecting my flight to get delayed, diverted to another airport, or worse, canceled. The flight, however, departed from Taoyuan International Airport without a single hiccup.
We were expected to land in NAIA Terminal 1 at 10:50 pm but was forced to circle above Manila for about an hour or so due to congestion. It was almost 12 midnight when we were finally given permission to land. (READ: TIMELINE: Xiamen Air plane mishap at NAIA runway)
Just when I thought we were home free, the pilot tells us that there were no available parking slots in NAIA and that we would not be able to disembark for an indefinite amount of time.
While on the ground, the plane was in landing mode where the lights were dimmed, aircons running, and seatbelt signs were on. The flight attendants were seated on the sides to make sure that no one stood up. (READ: Xiamen Air says sorry days after runway mishap)
Passengers were generally calm within the first couple of hours. I, myself, initially thought that we would be off within the first two hours.
No one expected to spend the entire night stuck in a plane waiting for a parking slot which was exactly what happened.
The pilot, at 1:30 am, made another announcement, apologizing to passengers that there were no updates regarding the situation. At that moment, I had a strong feeling that we were stuck there until sunrise.
It was around 3 am when I started noticing other passengers get a little restless, likely because they were starting to become hungry. Aside from the meal that came with the flight, we were not offered or served food during the entire duration of the wait, not even snacks. A few passengers requested for water or coffee which flight attendants obliged to.
Fortunately, no one, at any point in the whole ordeal, verbally complained or confronted any of the attendants.
I also heard a few passengers contacting those waiting for them at the airport, telling them that they have no idea when they could disembark.
A good number of people just tried to get as much sleep as they can while waiting. I struggled to get a good night’s sleep in the plane so I kept myself busy with the in-flight entertainment which was still available.
At approximately 5:40 am, just as it was getting brighter outside, the plane slowly wheeled itself towards its parking slot, soon announcing that the plane was parked and we were finally able to disembark. The sound of loud claps filled the plane as everyone collectively heaved a deep sigh of relief.
Normally, post-landing claps are kind of cheesy but they were truly, completely valid in this case. We were finally able to disembark after 6 hours.
As upsetting as the whole ordeal was for me and the other passengers, some of which were in 12-15-hour-long flights prior to the one we were just on, I was so glad to finally be able to go home.
Later that day, I found out another EVA Air flight allegedly had to go back to Taiwan after already being rerouted to Clark and making the passengers wait 6 hours in the plane. That was even worse. I wouldn't wish it on all my enemies. But if there's one thing I'd wish for, I wish local concerned bodies can learn from this, so situations like this can be remedied much, much quicker. – Rappler.com