After a long delay in Greece, United Airlines was forced to divert an Athens, Greece, to Newark, New Jersey, flight to Iceland after the pilots and flight attendants “timed out.”
After landing in the capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik, a new pilot and flight attendant crew took over, and after an additional three-hour delay, the plane finally took off once more for Newark.
The unplanned detour happened on Sunday after United Airlines flight UA125 from Athens to Newark was delayed by around five hours on the ground in Greece due to an unrelated problem, leaving the crew short on time to fly all the way to Newark.
A system is known as “flight time limitations” regulates the maximum number of hours that pilots and flight attendants are permitted to work. This system is intended to stop aircrew from working when they are weary.
The prolonged delay on the ground caused the pilots and flight attendants to exceed the maximum FTL threshold, extending the typical flight time from Athens to Newark to almost 10 hours.
United’s alternatives were limited: either despatch the flight with a stopover for a crew change or transfer the crew to a hotel for rest and try again the following day. United chose the latter choice and prepared a brand-new crew from the United States to meet the aircraft in Iceland.
Not everyone on the flight was particularly happy with United’s decision, however. On Twitter, one passenger said, “one stupid decision after another got us from Athens to a small airport in Reykjavik with no infrastructure to support this flight”.
After United first stated that the detour would only result in a “short pause,” another person called the delay in Iceland a “complete mess.”
The passengers on board UA125 endured a very long flight as a result of the diversion, but there was no other choice but to wait even longer in Athens so that the original crew could get some much-needed rest.