At Resolver, we often hear reports of flights being delayed for several hours – or even days. The longest delays come into effect when replacement flights cannot be arranged after a cancellation, but many passengers end up stuck on the runway when delays cause flight crews to run over their scheduled hours.
One of the longest delays to have struck air travellers was the Pacific Clipper, a Pan Am flight in New Zealand on 7th December, 1941 – the day Pearl Harbour was attacked and conflict broke out across the Pacific.
The crew of the Pacific Clipper was stuck in the US embassy for a whole week – only to be told that they’d have to fly westward to get back to the US! This meant that the crew accidentally became the first commercial flight to fly around the world.
Unfortunately for the Pacific Clipper, however, they had to arrange their own supplies along the way! They persevered (unlike the Korean Air flight delayed as a result of “nutgate” in 2014 – more below), crossing the entire world to get back to the US. The entire journey resulted in a delay of a whole month.
Back in the early days of commercial flight, there was little in the way of consumer protection. These days however, you’ve got loads of rights if your flight is delayed. For more information, see our page on Flight Delays.
One of the stranger flight delays in recent history came in 2014, when the vice president of Korean Air (who was, incidentally, the daughter of the chairman) made an almighty fuss over a packet of nuts. The incident became known in the media as “nutgate”, one of the most ridiculous flight delays of all time.
Heather Cho was incensed when the cabin crew gave her nuts in their bag rather than on a plate. After confronting the cabin crew chief, Heather Cho fired him and demanded that the plane return to the gate to eject the chief from the aircraft. This caused a delay to passengers on the flight – and resulted in international condemnation and Ms Cho being given a year-long prison sentence (of which she served three months).
Even more bizarrely, a flight from Miami International Airport was delayed by four hours – by bees! Airport staff were shocked to discover that thousands of bees had attached themselves to the cargo hold of the plane, preventing them from loading luggage. The plane was delayed while a beekeeper was called to remove the errant insects, and passengers were given refreshments while waiting.
These stories may leave you wondering what you should do if delays hit your flight. The good news is that you’ll most likely be covered by EU regulation 261/2004, which lets you claim for air compensation if your flight is delayed for more than three hours. The amount of compensation due depends on the length of the delay – check our see our page on Flight Delays for more!