Hundreds of Belgians have been stranded in Jamaica since Tuesday after their connecting flight back to Belgium was cancelled due to a technical issue on their Boeing aircraft.
A total of 305 passengers—mostly Belgians—took off from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic at around 4:00 on Tuesday, landing at the Sangster International Airport in the evening for what was supposed to be a connecting flight.
On their way back from Punta Cana the plane—a Dreamliner Boeing 737—developed problems. “We were stuck inside the plane for around an hour and a half when they told us that the brakes on our plane had an issue which they needed to verify and repair,” The Brussels Times quoted one passenger.
The airline carrier, TUI, has a fleet mostly consisting of Boeings—including the 787-8 Dreamliner, the Boeing 737 Next Generation and the Boeing 737 Max. The Max series was grounded worldwide last year following two deadly crashes which were linked to a series of faults, including design and manufacture.
The passenger said that they were later asked to disembark and given a €4.50 voucher to use during at least two hours of waiting at the airport, before ultimately being sent to a hotel. “We arrived at the hotel at 1:00 AM and were told that the bus for the airport would leave at 6:30 AM the next morning, but at that time we were told that [the issue] hadn’t been settled yet and that a new bus would come pick us up at 4:30 PM,” the passenger said.
A second passenger reported that the departure from the hotel was repeatedly postponed, until the last proposed take-off time, set at 1:00 AM, was also ultimately scrapped. The Brussels Times reported that passenger expressed outrage over being “run around like dirty cattle”, calling out the company for “avoiding their responsibilities” and noting that there were children as well as elderly and disabled people on the flight.
TUI reported that repairs were still being done on the plane but that the passengers would finally be put on board a flight to Belgium at around 2:00 PM today. BUZZ reached out to the Belgium Embassy in Jamaica a short while ago but was told no one was in office to respond to our questions about the stranded Belgians and their return flight home.