german built has an interesting story forwarded to me by reader Klaus about a recent LOT Polish Airlines flight that had to return to Warsaw after being diverted to Hannover. The story describes this as a “disorganized flight” in which “passengers turned back because the airline was too stingy.” Is that a fair criticism? Let’s take a look.
LOT flight to Düsseldorf diverted to Hannover and then Warsaw
The incident occurred on Monday, September 18, 2023, and involved LOT Polish Airlines. LO407 flightwas scheduled to fly from Warsaw (WAW) to Düsseldorf (DUS). The planned 612-mile flight was operated by a 13-year-old Embraer E175 with registration code SP-LIL and had 75 passengers on board.
The plane was scheduled to depart at 5pm and arrive at 7pm. There was a slight delay in departure, and we ended up taking off from Warsaw at 6:21 p.m. By approximately 7:40 p.m., the aircraft had arrived near Düsseldorf, but unfortunately the weather conditions were deteriorating. The aircraft circled for approximately 25 minutes. As the situation did not improve, it was decided to divert to Hannover, approximately 250 miles from Düsseldorf. The aircraft landed safely at approximately 8:25 p.m.
This is where things get complicated. Once the plane reached the ground, the passengers were not allowed to disembark, but rather the police appeared only to control the situation and prevent the passengers from disembarking the plane.
The captain likely contacted the airline’s operations personnel and made the decision to refuel the aircraft and keep the passengers on board. The initial hope was that the situation in Düsseldorf would improve and airlines would be able to continue operating there. However, as the situation did not improve and there was no other option, it was decided to return to Warsaw.
This infuriated many passengers, who insisted that they should be allowed to leave the plane in Hannover. In the end, the airline agreed to allow a total of 10 people to leave the plane with only carry-on baggage and travel to their final destination on their own.
In the end, the plane took off again from Hannover at 10:58 p.m. and landed in Warsaw at 12:06 a.m. Therefore, more than six hours after the scheduled departure time, the passenger returned to the place from which he had departed.
A police spokesperson explains the situation as follows:
“We were only there to secure the runway. The airlines and the airport are responsible for this.”
An airport spokesperson explains the situation as follows:
“It was the pilot’s decision not to disembark the plane in Hannover and continue the flight. LOT is currently not a handling agency partner at Hannover Airport.”
An airline spokesperson explained the situation:
“Despite several hours of negotiations with the airport, there were insufficient staff and facilities (passenger boarding bridge, buses, etc.) to serve the passengers of LO Flight 407 that day. We may not allow passengers to disembark if the aircraft is difficult to navigate.” Not adequately protected. “We were also informed that there was no hotel space and no possibility to provide the passengers with proper care, including transportation, accommodation and meals.”
Was LOT Polish Airlines cheap?
One passenger who was able to get off the plane said, “I called the pilot.” [he] I knew and asked for advice on how the passengers could fight for their ‘freedom’.” He claims that “the key was that LOT didn’t want to pay to evict people.” He further said:
“I will never fly LOT again because I don’t want to risk being held against my will on a flight. I am also disappointed that federal police did not come to the rescue of all the passengers sooner. ”
They reportedly spent 400 euros on a rental car and ended up arriving at their destination around 3am. Is he going to file a complaint against the pilot now?
Let me admit that this was an unpleasant ordeal for all passengers involved. The 10 people who were able to get off the plane had a long way to go before they reached their destination, while the other passengers had a six-hour journey to nowhere.
This was definitely terrible, but my interpretation of the situation is not that this was a “disorganized flight” or that the airline was being stingy. Rather, it highlights the complexities of airline operations, from unpredictable weather to airport curfews.
- When the plane diverted to Hannover, perhaps the original plan was to refuel and fly to Düsseldorf before curfew, but unfortunately the situation did not improve in time.
- LOT Polish Airlines does not normally fly to Hannover and the airline’s logistics are very complex. We’re not just talking about finding a way to disembark a passenger at an airport, but given European airlines’ duty of care to get passengers to their final destination or to accommodate them in a hotel. You also need a plan.
- I’m not sure how much effort LOT went through, but it involved finding 80(ish) hotel rooms and arranging multiple late-night buses to carry so many people to destinations 240 miles away. It will never be easy.
- Of course it’s disappointing to have to return to your point of departure, but airlines can easily block rooms, provide customer service, arrange alternative flights, etc. may be the best way to protect your obligations.
Was LOT a bit confusing in this case? It’s possible. However, I don’t think the airline was being “stingy” as operating special flights just to bring passengers back to their point of departure is no cheap undertaking.
LOT Polish Airlines made a complicated diversion on a recent flight from Warsaw to Düsseldorf. The Embraer E175 was unable to land in Düsseldorf due to bad weather. The plane then diverted to Hannover. Unfortunately, the situation at Düsseldorf Airport did not improve, and the plane ended up returning to Warsaw, landing six hours after its scheduled departure.
It’s obviously a frustrating situation for passengers, but I don’t think airlines can be accused of being stingy. In fact, I think this is one of the situations that highlights the complexity of the airline industry.
What do you think about this LOT Polish Airlines destination change?