No one likes fuel surcharges and no one likes being stuck on a tarmac for six hours. Now imagine what it must be like to be stuck on that tarmac for six hours because the airline refuses to take off unless you and the other passengers can pool $31,500 to pay for fuel to get to their destination.
This is what happened earlier this week on a flight operated by Austria-based carrier Comtel. The flight, en route from Amritsar, India, to Birmingham, England, made an unplanned stop in Vienna, where passengers were told they would have to get off the plane because the airline “ran out of cash to fund the last leg of the trip.”
Thus ensued the six-hour standoff as passengers refused to ante up the cash or get off the flight they had already paid for. Police were eventually called in and passengers, rather than be stranded several countries away from their final destination, went to ATMs to withdraw enough cash to pay the $31,500.
“I have heard what happened. It shouldn’t have happened, and I will investigate why it happened,” the director of passenger services for Comtel Air, told the Press Association. “The people who had to pay the money will receive a refund.”
Meanwhile, Comtel has canceled all flights between Birmingham and Amritsar through at least this coming weekend, leaving hundreds of people stranded in both countries and scrambling to make other travel arrangements.
Thanks to Dan for the tip!