The 262 passengers on United flight 857 from San Francisco to Shanghai were stranded in Anchorage, Alaska for two days, thanks to a couple of inoperable lavatories.

The thirteen-hour flight took off from San Francisco at 2 PM on Sunday, but after three hours they found that several of the Boeing 777's bathrooms were broken. United diverted the plane to the nearest airport, which happened to be Anchorage.

Understaffed, it took hours to get everyone hotel and meal vouchers. One passenger told the Associated Press, "It was 10 or 11 p.m. before we had the meal vouchers. Everything was closed."

At the hotel there were more complications, as many of the passengers returning to China did not have credit cards, which were required by the hotel for check-in. Only when other passengers let them use their credit cards could these passengers get into the hotel.

United brought a second plane on Monday, but it had mechanical problems and could not fly. The passengers waited over five hours on that plane before they disembarked and got more vouchers. It wasn't until Tuesday that United brought in a third Boeing 777 and the passengers could finally depart.


United representatives claim they will fully refund the passengers' tickets, and add that some additional compensation may also be provided.

Photo Credit: John Murphy