Travel to the USA: Prepared for an Unexpected U-turn?
When boarding Lufthansa flight 480 from Munich, Germany, to Miami, Florida, on my first trip of travel to the USA, just a couple of weeks ago, everything was perfect.
The Airbus 380 was not full, and I had 3 seats for myself. Great!
We were already flying for some time over the Atlantic when the captain made the announcement that due to a fire alarm in the cargo compartment, they successfully brought a fire under control and filled the whole cargo compartment with a cloud of foam as it seemed a ventilator had caught fire.
The captain assured everything was under control. But for safety reasons we would not continue the remaining 8-hour flight to travel to the USA across the Atlantic. Instead, we would fly back to reach land again where we would then head to Paris.
The passengers all became very quiet and thoughtful. I looked for the remaining flight time on the monitor. Saw the huge U-turn we would have to make over the Atlantic along with the flight time to our new destination which was given as over 2 hours and 30 minutes. Suspense began creeping up inside me.
The crew on the other hand was very professional and nice.
I could smell the smoke from where I was sitting and informed the crew. They knew and offered to change my seat row and side of the plane, but this wouldn’t make much of a difference.
We were only 140 kilometers away from Paris where the airport was prepared for a (maybe) emergency landing, when the captain came back on the PA and said it would be better to go to Munich, which was one hour away. He explained that it would be far better, because ground staff was at hand to arrange rebooking and all that what goes with that.
Additionally, there were some airports en route where we could land if necessary.
We did make it to Munich, but the diversion seemed endlessly long.
A fleet of firefighters were expecting us upon landing, but luckily, we were able to disembark at the gate.
The crew was marvelous, and at no point did passengers seem nervous when the news broke from cockpit the first time.
Ground staff was also great and helpful. In a bit more than one hour, most of the 283 passengers were rebooked for the next day and hotels had been provided.
I was booked on a flight to Zurich and on the next morning flight from Zurich to Miami – finally I would travel to the USA.
Others went via New York to Miami, because many of them had a cruise booked from Miami or they had an ongoing flight. The mood of passengers was calm, as we all were grateful for the great efficiency of the crew and ground handling team.
While my Swiss flight to Zurich was delayed later in the evening on the same day, my suitcase got lost when landing late at night in Zurich. The hotel shuttle bus left when we had just arrived, but we finally arrived at the hotel before midnight.
The next morning, together with some fellow passengers, we left on an overbooked Airbus 330-300 Swiss flight for Miami, which was far less comfortable than the Airbus 380, but all was okay. Even my suitcase had arrived and was on the luggage belt in Miami.
It was a happy ending of a rather concerning situation which hardly ever happens that way.
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