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Air New Zealand’s 16 hour flight to nowhere

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A power outage at New York’s largest airport forced an Air New Zealand flight to turn around eight hours into its journey to the Big Apple.

Passengers on the Kiwi carrier’s flagship route NZ2 were two thirds of the way to the US mainland when the aeroplane changed direction and flew back to Auckland.

In total, passengers spent 16 hours on the Boeing 787 and ended up where they had started.

One person on social media said it had to be “one of the worst diversions of all time”.

It trumped an Emirates flight in January that spent 13 hours heading to Auckland before also turning around.

International flights at John F Kennedy Airport’s Terminal 1 were brought to a standstill on Thursday when a fire caused a major power disruption.

Travellers had to go to alternate terminals and airports or come to terms with having to travel on a different day.

But for the Air New Zealand flight it led to a 16 hour nightmare ride.

Some passengers were frustrated Air NZ hadn’t simply diverted to another US airport and rebooked its travellers on a domestic carrier to New York.

The carrier is a partner of United Airlines which has extensive operations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston and other major airports.

But Air NZ said that wasn’t the best option.

“Diverting to another US port would have meant the aircraft would remain on the ground for several days, impacting a number of other scheduled services and customers,” an airline spokeswoman told theNew Zealand Herald.

“The flight is now returning to Auckland where customers will be rebooked on the next available service. Our teams are working through that process and will be on hand to help customers with their travel arrangements when they arrive in Auckland.”

The airline apologised for the inconvenience and said it was grateful for customers’ patience and understanding.

In January, Emirates flight EK448 from Dubai to Auckland turned around six and half hours into the journey due to extreme weather and flash flooding which had afflicted the NZ gateway.

In total it spent 13 hours flying from Dubai to, um, Dubai..

JFK’s Terminal 1 remained closed on Friday, US time, impacting scores of airlines.

Terminal 1 is a major base for international carriers at JFK including Lufthansa, Air France, Air China and Korean Air as well as Air New Zealand.

“The power outage was caused by an electrical panel failure, which also caused a small isolated fire overnight that was immediately extinguished.” said a statement from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey which operates the city’s major airports.

Teh outdated terminal is currently undergoing a major expansion.

International flights arriving on Thursday were diverted to other airports on the east coast, including New York’s Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, Boston’s Logan International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport, according to JFK’s website.

– with The New York Post.

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