Passengers endured a ten-hour delay before their US-bound flight finally departed form Shannon on Tuesday night following what the airline described as a ‘crew availability issue.’
United Airlines flight UA-24 to Newark/New York was due to depart Shannon at 9.00am on Tuesday but didn’t take off until almost 7 o’clock that evening.
There were 119 passengers and a crew of seven due to depart on the scheduled service but because a full crew wasn’t available, the flight couldn’t depart.
One passenger claimed that the delay occurred after a member of the flight crew had sustained a head injury and was not able to carry out their duties.
“We were told it was because a crew member was unable to travel because of a head injury. We were told no more than that to be honest but it was frustrating. You’d imagine there’d have a replacement crew available but apparently not,” the passenger said.
“Apart from the 10 hour delay, by the time we got to board our flight, US pre-clearance was closed so we had a further delay on the other side (Newark),” he added.
The US Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance facility at Shannon carries out customs and immigration checks allowing travellers to be regarded as ‘US domestic passengers’ even before they leave Ireland and eliminating long queues on arrival in the States.
However, the facility doesn’t operate all day and so the United Airlines passengers affected by Tuesday’s delay were unable to avail of the service.
“The pre-clearance is the big attraction and bonus at Shannon and means when you arrive in the US you just sail through because you have already been cleared. It was a long day and a big pain but we got there in the end,” another passenger said.
The airline would not comment on the circumstances of the ‘crew availability issue’ or whether it resulted from a crew member being injured.
A spokesman said: “United Airlines flight UA-24 from Shannon to New York/Newark on Jan. 6, 2015, a Boeing 757-200 aircraft with 119 customers and a crew of 7 on board, was delayed due to flight crew availability.
Our customer service team at Shannon provided assistance to customers. The aircraft departed Shannon on January 6th at 6:59pm and arrived at New York/Newark at 9:42pm local time. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience caused,” the company said.