Wednesday morning, a United Airlines flight was denied access to Russian airspace. Did the airline, whose been in the news quite a bit lately, do something to piss the country off?
Well, it appears the flight to Shanghai, China from San Francisco was diverted for “diplomatic reasons.”
When the plane was not allowed within Russian airspace, fuel became an issue. It had to be diverted to the Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan. After the pilot told passengers that Russia said it was because of diplomatic reasons, social media went wild.
Several of the passengers posted to social media about the diverted flight and the reason given by the pilot. Andy Brown, one of the passengers on the United Airlines flight, says they almost ran out of gas before they made it to Narita to refuel.
He also posted on his Facebook account that after refueling, the pilot backed the plane into something at the Tokyo airport. That broke something on the airplane, causing even more delays. Brown posted:
“United probably will not tell the public about this.”
The Daily Caller chatted with Brown via Skype. He told DC that he flies to Shanghai monthly. And, he’s never, ever been on a flight that was diverted.
Another passenger also posted on social media about the delay due to Russia’s diplomatic reasons:
теперь шутки про третью мировую не кажутся такими смешными… pic.twitter.com/4FDcsjSitp
— латышева (@latyshevaaa) April 12, 2017
Daily Caller reports:
It is not entirely clear what diplomatic concerns may have forced the diversion. The most obvious explanation would be the tense relationship between the U.S. and Russia over Syria’s use of chemical weapons during an attack on April 4.
The White House said on Tuesday that the Russian government has engaged in a cover-up to shift blame from the Syrian regime for the attacks, which involved the use of sarin gas and killed 100 people. Syria and Russia are allies.
In 2014, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev floated the idea of denying Western airlines access to Russian airspace in response to sanctions.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also currently in Russia. He met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday and will meet with Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
It is unclear if any other flights were re-routed and whether the diversions are temporary.
Flight logs tracked on the website FlightAware show that the flight from San Francisco was diverted at 7:32 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The flight, which normally takes less than 13 hours, was delayed nearly three hours. It left San Francisco’s airport at 2:10 p.m. local time on Tuesday and arrived in Shanghai at 8:22 p.m. local time.
A spokesman for United Airlines confirmed to The Daily Caller that the flight was re-routed and that because the airplane “required a longer route,” it was forced to refuel. The spokesman declined to comment on whether diplomatic concerns were at play. He said that United is in communication with air traffic control, including the Federal Aviation Administration, to determine the reason for the diversion.
A spokesman for FAA acknowledged TheDC’s emailed request for comment but did not respond by the time this article when to press.