lifestyle, travel This is Cozumel
Virgin Atlantic flight
Massive Virgin Atlantic plane.

Over 450 passengers on a Virgin Atlantic flight from London to Cancun had an unexpected overnight stop in Cozumel, earlier this month.

The massive Boeing 747-443 transatlantic airliner was diverted to the island due to heavy thunderstorms at its original destination.

Although Cozumel airport's runways are over 8,000 feet long and capable of landing some of the world's largest commercial aircraft, the terminal's ground crew and immigration staff were not ready for the surprise British arrival.

A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic told This is Cozumel that they originally intended to refuel in Cozumel and then continue on to Cancun when the bad weather had passed.

However, "Ground handling was sporadic," they said, "and unable to be completed within crew hours and the flight had to be night-stopped".

This meant hotels had to be found quickly for the plane's 455 passengers and 18 crew - not an easy task during heavy rain late on a Saturday evening.

Cozumel airport
Tail of the Virgin Atlantic plane parked at Cozumel airport the next day.

Cozumel airport boasts the latest technology, but it is not set up to receive wide bodied aircraft, which led to further delays offloading the passengers and their luggage.

According to reports in travel forums online, some of the unfortunate passengers did not arrive to their hotel in Cozumel until 3.30am, more than 21 hours after they had originally taken off from London's Gatwick airport.

A lot of passengers were understandably exhausted and irrate, but many also understood it was simply bad weather that had led to the difficult situation and that the plane's captain had to put safety first and land at the nearest available airport.

One passenger wrote online, "in all honesty, the crew did their best in a bad situation."

Virgin Atlantic said they will be offering all passengers a free flight from London Gatwick to Cancun as compensation.

See our Transport section for more information and to make reservations for Cozumel flights and airlines or Cozumel airport transfers.

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