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Airline Troubles Upset Passengers

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After enduring a nine-hour ground delay, one might think the last thing passengers would want is to stay on the aircraft after it arrived at its destination. That was the situation facing Hong Kong Airlines staff last week when more than 50 passengers refused to get off the flight when it finally arrived in Hong Kong from Singapore. The passengers staged the sit-in to protest what they considered inadequate compensation for the original delay, which was caused by a mechanical fault on the aircraft. They left the plane after 90 minutes and continued the protest inside the airport until the airline agreed to pay them about $150 instead of the $50 originally offered. Almost exactly the opposite occurred in Vienna last week when passengers had to dig into their wallets to continue their flight to England.

The Comtel flight originated in Amritsar and was headed for Birmingham when it made a fuel stop in Vienna, the airline's home base. Comtel couldn't pay for the fuel needed for the flight to England so passengers were told they had to come up with $34,000 between themselves to top the 757's tanks. Those who didn't have cash on them were escorted to ATMs in the terminal to withdraw the money. The plane and its unhappy passengers made it to Birmingham and Comtel blamed the incident on late payments from travel agents.

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