Emirates flight ignores Tokyo curfew and distributes sleeping bags as passengers loot lounge

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Emirates flight ignores Tokyo curfew and distributes sleeping bags as passengers loot 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 takeoff before the airport’s midnight curfew by just a few minutes. The airline didn’t bother to get hotel rooms for the passengers – or, supposedly, even the 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 retreated around 10:35 pm but returned 10 minutes later. In English, the captain announced that there was a mechanical problem. The Japanese translation identified a problem with the plane’s electronics, and passengers reported a burning smell from the lower deck of the double-decker aircraft.
  • The matter had been resolved at 23:45 – 15 minutes before the curfew at the airport. They taxi but don’t arrive until midnight. A few minutes later the plane returns, reporting that the runway has been closed. for maintenance (although in Japanese, again, the correct detail was given that the plane was denied takeoff since 12:02 am).
  • As the Emirates plane returned to the gate, they didn’t unload anyone for over two hours, instead running a meal service. Around 2:30 am, the premium passengers were disembarked. When everyone left the aircraft, they were given a sleeping bag. Premium passengers were sent to the lounge to sleep.

One reader was on the flight and said he was told the airline could not find hotel rooms and that no one would be allowed to leave the airport.

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

…We meet the backup captain who says he has been told there are no crew quarters either and they are just as ignorant. He says Emirates thought it had ten minutes of curfew flexibility.

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

This situation was handled very poorly by Emirates all around.

  1. Mechanical problems happen, but the airline didn’t seem to know how the airport curfew works.
  2. Passengers were kept on board the aircraft for hours, even when the plane would not be allowed to take off.
  3. There would certainly be hotel rooms, even if they weren’t all in the same hotel and even if they weren’t close to the airport in Narita City. Had Emirates been unable to handle processing hotel vouchers for different properties (itself a fault) they could have offered to refund a lump sum to those who left to get rooms on their own.

It is also regrettable that the curfew in Narita is so strict that a plane properly scheduled to depart within acceptable limits, which takes time to ensure safety, does not have a grace period of just a few minutes.