The Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco on Sunday lodged solemn representation to airline company Delta after its flight DL287 unexpectedly returned to the US halfway to China, leaving numerous Chinese on board nowhere to go with expired visas and health codes.
Following the announcement of Chinese Embassy in the US on Saturday, the consulate general urged Delta to guarantee passengers' legitimate rights, whose flight DL287 from Seattle to Shanghai flew back to Seattle only halfway into its journey.
The Chinese Embassy in the US warned passengers who plan to go to China must be cautious on choosing the airline company and pay close attention to the changes of their flights, given several flights from US to China had been delayed or canceled recently.
They'd better check the flight status with the airline company ahead of time and prepare for the COVID-19 Nucleic Acid PCR Test and Antibody Test IgM before boarding. A second-time test and application for health code willbe needed if the previous ones are past the required time period, said the embassy.
A netizen named Runtu told the Global Times on Sunday that she was on the plane and finally flew back to the US after a 6-hour flight overhead Russia. The flight left numerous Chinese on board nowhere to go with expired visas and health codes.
Runtu said the captain told the passengers that the new policy China released made their green health codes unable to be approved and the plane had to go back to Seattle.
"We hurried to contact families and friends in China, as well as Shanghai Pudong International Airport, where the plane would havelanded. But what we learned is that the airport didn'tget any abnormal information about this flight," said another passenger on the plane surnamed Fang, stnn.cc reported.
Fang said passengers suspect that it's an internal problem of Delta company.
A manager from the Shanghai Pudong International Airport said that the flight neither landed at the airport nor entered China's airspace. The manager said they did not know what "specific impact" of China's anti-pandemic policy has caused on the flight.
Runtu said that she guessed the aircrew didn't want to work for another three hours for disinfection, because the disinfection procedure could have made their "flying time" surpass the fixed time required by US federal law, which will make them stay in China to rest and unable to fly back to the US on time for Christmas.
The passengers on the plane are demanding that Delta explain the real reason for the sudden return.
The Global Times called the US Embassy in China on Sunday morning to ask the reason why the flight had been canceled and was told the embassy doesn't provide consultation on such issues.
According to the flight tracking site FlightAware, there has been numerous flights from the US to China delayed or canceled. CNN reported on Saturday that United Airlines canceled some flights because the nationwide spike in Omicron cases had a direct impact on flight crews and people who run the operation.
KIRO 7 reported that a Delta spokesperson said the "cancellation of flight DL287 from Seattle to Shanghai is not related to the staff shortages from COVID-19 that is impacting hundreds of other flights across the country."