Emirates Flight Misses Curfew In Tokyo, Hands Out Sleeping Bags While Passengers Loot The Lounge

On December 23, Emirates flight EK319 from Tokyo Narita to Dubai became a miserable experience for 500 passengers and crew on the Airbus A380. The plane went mechanical, and missed taking off before the airport’s midnight curfew by just a few minutes. The airline didn’t bother getting hotel rooms for passengers – or, reportedly, even crew. In fact they told passengers they couldn’t leave the airport, handed out sleeping bags, and directed premium cabin passengers to the lounge for the night.

  • The A380 pushed back around 10:35 p.m., but returned 10 minutes later. In English, the captain announced that there was a mechanical issue. The Japanese translation identified an issue with the plane’s electronics, and passengers reported a burning smell downstairs in the double decker aircraft.

  • The issue had been addressed by 11:45 p.m. – 15 minutes before the airport curfew. They taxi out, but don’t make it by midnight. A couple of minutes after the plane heads back, stating that the runway has closed for maintenance (though in Japanese, again, correct detail was provided that the plane was denied takeoff since it was 12:02 a.m.).

  • While the Emirates plane returned to the gate they did not offload anyone for more than two hours, instead performing a meal service. Around 2:30 a.m. premium passengers were disembarked. As everyone left the aircraft they were handed a sleeping bag. Premium passengers were sent to the lounge to sleep.

皆さんのクリスマスはこうなるはずじゃなかった。ね、@emirates?#エミレーツ #emirates #ek319 pic.twitter.com/KbZtx4bMpd

— ダミアニャ推しのアナスタシア (@damixanya_ana) December 23, 2022

日本舐め過ぎエミレーツがやらかした実態 pic.twitter.com/DQRAwliu3s

— ダミアニャ推しのアナスタシア (@damixanya_ana) December 23, 2022

#EK319#エミレーツ航空#emirates

23金22:30成田発ドバイ行きの飛行機に搭乗後、機体トラブル等で27時まで機内待機。寝袋支給の上振替便発の39時まで出発ロビーで待機を命じられる。一時帰宅を希望するも不可、ここにいろと。加えて安全上の理由のため旅客への補償は不要という見解とのこと。マジ? pic.twitter.com/W9Y00I6dFA

— 池谷 (@TBHOCNSzuu4FeF3) December 24, 2022

Hey @emirates and @NRT airport, yesterday you abandoned 500+ passengers (flight EK319) in subhuman conditions at gate 66. Sleeping bags and bottles of water since midnight? Is this how Japan treats its visitors and residents in Christmas? @NHKWORLD_News @japantimes @dw_espanol pic.twitter.com/rq1PFAGC76

— JM (@Myrdin_Emrys) December 23, 2022

A reader was on the flight and says he was told that the airline couldn’t find hotel rooms, and that no one would be allowed to leave the airport.

His tone changes shortly after one passenger (who turns out to be the CEO of Citibank Japan) says he will take legal action. He makes a number of radio calls.

…We bump into the augmenting captain who says he has been told that there are no rooms for the crew either and they are equally clueless. He says Emirates thought they had ten minutes flexibility on the curfew.

He describes chaos at the boarding gate for the next day’s rescheduled 3 p.m. departure, with problems reprinting boarding passes and a lounge that looked “looted.”

This situation was handled very badly by Emirates all around.

  • Mechanical issues happen, but the airline didn’t appear aware of how the airport’s curfew works.
  • Passengers were kept on board the aircraft for hours even when the plane wasn’t going to be allowed to depart.
  • Certainly there would have been hotel rooms, even if not all at the same hotel and even if not near the airport in Narita City. If Emirates was unable to handle processing hotel vouchers for disparate properties (itself a fail) they could have offered to reimburse a fixed amount for those who left to obtain rooms on their own.
  • It’s also unfortunate that the curfew at Narita is so strict that a plane properly scheduled to depart well within acceptable limits, that takes a delay to ensure safety, isn’t granted a grace period of just a couple of minutes.

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