March 21, 2012 at 12:49 PM ET
And you thought a typical 13-hour San Francisco-to-Shanghai flight was long?
Passengers on Shanghai-bound United Airlines Flight 857 were diverted to Alaska's Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Sunday because of malfunctioning lavatories — the first of many problems that resulted in a two-day delay.
The broken toilets were detected about three hours after takeoff. “The flight crew elected to divert to the nearest available airport,” United spokesperson Charles Hobart told the Anchorage Daily News.
Once in Anchorage, the 262 passengers sat on the tarmac aboard the Boeing 777 until 8 p.m. before deplaning.
“We provided our customers with hotel accommodations and meal options,” United said in a statement issued to msnbc.com.
However, because of the late hour and an overwhelmed airport staff, it took hours for passengers to receive their vouchers, the Anchorage Daily News reported. “It was 10 or 11 p.m. before we had the meal vouchers,” passenger Chen Chang told the paper. “Everything was closed.”
A second 777 arrived Monday and passengers boarded around 3 p.m., but a computer problem resulted in a long tarmac wait. Eventually, at 8:30 p.m., passengers were told that flight would not take off.
A third 777 arrived Tuesday afternoon, and successfully took off at 2:40 p.m., airport personnel told the Anchorage Daily News.
“We sincerely apologize to our customers for the delays and are fully refunding their tickets,” United said. “We are also actively reaching out to our customers to offer additional compensation.”
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Information from The Anchorage Daily News story, "Broken toilets strand 262 plane passengers for two days," was included in this report.