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Unexpected Cuba holidays for U.S. passengers as plane diverts its route

  • 02-Aug-11 12:03
  • Havana
  • Travel USA Today

After detecting a foul smell, a United Airlines airplane made an emergency island in the Cuban capital. All U.S. passengers onboard were treated to very short Cuba holidays as they waited for a new plane to take them to their final destination in Cancun.

Unexpected Cuba holidays for U.S. passengers as plane diverts its route

Due to an unforeseen emergency during a flight route between Washington and Mexico, some passengers were treated to unexpected and very brief holidays in Cuba, as the plane landed in Havana last Sunday after the crew detected a strange odour in the cabin.

Authorities have revealed that in an extreme measure of precaution, United Airlines Flight 831 from Dulles International Airport (AID) made an emergency landing in Havana’s International Jose Marti airport, thus deviating from its original destination at Cancun International Airport.

The plane carried a total of 135 passengers on board and five crew members (two pilots and three flight attendants) when after noticing an “unfamiliar smell” that a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration described as similar to “a strong electrical odour” in the cockpit, the pilots decided to land in the Caribbean island as a precautionary measure.

“In an abundance of caution, the pilots decided to land the aircraft at the nearest available airport.” the airline’s release statement read. The plane landed in Havana Internationa Airport (HAV) at noon and it had left Dulles just before 9.00am. It was supposed to take passengers to Cancun holidays and arrive at their final destination in the Mexican Riviera at 11.27am.

Instead, U.S. passengers who are not normally allowed (except in special circumstances and with special permits and licenses) to travel to Cuba or enjoy any sort of recreational or leisure trip to Cuba, were given a short Cuba holiday experience after the plane remained on the ground, in Havana for several hours as the airline arranged to have a new plane sent over.

The plane remained on land in the Caribbean nation as of 5.15pm and Charlie Hobart, a spokesman for United Airlines said the airline was “working to reaccommodate our customers," further announcing that another plane was being ferried in from Cancun to then take the passengers to their final destination.

Normally, there are very tight restrictions (even when now under Obama’s rule there have been some alterations allowing for more special licenses for Cuba travel) on the travel of U.S. citizens to the Communist state of Cuba, based on federal law. United Airlines does not typically fly to Cuba, and this incident is unprecedented.

Recently, however, there have been some changes to U.S. regulations with regards to Cuba travel, as now the legislation has been ammended to allow certaing groups of citizens to visit the island for cultural, educational and humanitarian purposes.

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