Just a little over a week since the UA Goose Bay diversion which had 176 passengers spending the night at Canadian military barracks due to an unspecified mechanical issue, United has once again had a diversion. This time 269 passengers were forced to sleep on the floor of Belfast airport Saturday night after their Rome (FCO) to Chicago (ORD) flight was diverted to Belfast to offload a disruptive passenger who was arrested.
After offloading the passenger, the flight taxied back out to the runway, but the crew timed out just minutes before take off. The aircraft then returned to the terminal, but passengers were kept onboard for almost 6 hours. By the time they were allowed off the aircraft, there were not enough hotel rooms available for all passengers. Instead, the airport provided blankets and water. United offered a $23 meal voucher and then increased it to $70, but there were few to any shops and restaurants open. The flight was finally scheduled to take off Sunday at 1PM, but it was later delayed until 4PM (24 hours after they left FCO).
United had this to say:
“United Flight 971, from Rome to Chicago, diverted to Belfast because of a disruptive passenger. Law enforcement met the aircraft and the passenger was removed. The crew then reached its maximum duty time, leading to the cancellation of the flight.
We understand the inconvenience this causes our customers and will refund their Rome to Chicago flight as well as offer the choice of a travel certificate or miles for our MileagePlus loyalty program.”