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United Airline passengers were forced to spend New Year’s Eve drinking beer on an deserted beach in American Samoa after their flight made an emergency landing. 

The travelers, who were flying from LA to Sydney, were forced to stop off on the chain of islands between Hawaii and New Zealand for 21 hours – and they allegedly received a tour of the island and enjoyed a fast food feast of McDonald’s.

More than 300 United Airlines’ passengers spent the new year on the scenic isle of Tutuila – where their pilot allegedly bought them shots to keep spirits high. 

The plane, identified as United flight 839, landed at Pago Pago Airport around midnight Friday, but was redirected to the islands – which are an American territory – Friday at 6:22am due to a mechanical issue, flight officials said.

Passengers (pictured Saturday at Pago Pago airport) were forced to spend nearly a full day on the remote island, set between Hawaii and New Zealand

Passengers (pictured Saturday at Pago Pago airport) were forced to spend nearly a full day on the remote island, set between Hawaii and New Zealand

More than 300 travelers were left stranded in scenic Pago Pago (pictured), where passengers spent 21 hours taking a tour of the island, drinking beers, and eating fast food

More than 300 travelers were left stranded in scenic Pago Pago (pictured), where passengers spent 21 hours taking a tour of the island, drinking beers, and eating fast food

‘Today’s flight diverted to Pago Pago to address a mechanical issue,’ a statement from the airline Friday read. 

‘We’re making use of our facilities, including available hotel options, to accommodate our customers, and will fly in a new aircraft to the island so they can finish their trip to Sydney soon.’

Stranded in a setting that most would consider a paradise, passengers on the wayward flight reportedly found themselves without food when touching down in Pago Pago, Tutuila Island’s capital.

Relatives of passengers quickly took to Twitter to report in real-time on the situation, with many saying that those on board were being looked after by locals who luckily graciously received the travelers.

Relatives of passengers quickly took to Twitter to report in real-time on the situation, with many saying that those on board were being looked after by locals who luckily graciously received the travelers. Some, however, chided United for allowing the incident to happen

Relatives of passengers quickly took to Twitter to report in real-time on the situation, with many saying that those on board were being looked after by locals who luckily graciously received the travelers. Some, however, chided United for allowing the incident to happen

‘My daughter is now stranded,’ one man wrote at 7:22 pm Saturday, 13 hours into the flight’s strange saga. ‘They (passengers) showered at hanger, got (a) tour of island and (are) drinking beers on deserted beach.’

A few hours before, a woman wrote that her family – including her young granddaughters – had also been on the flight. She also said that the Samoan people were helping the passengers, but questioned why the airline was not the one addressing the issue.

She added that a replacement flight was expected in the early hours of New Year’s Day – meaning passengers would still miss the world famous firework celebrations at off the Sydney Harbor.

‘My son and granddaughters were on that flight,’ the woman wrote Friday at 4:42pm.

‘Just spoke with him and he said the Samoan ppl (sic) have been incredibly generous(as they always are ) and everyone is being looked after before their flight early tomorrow morning.’

The concerned mother proceeded to tag United on her post, asking the airline, ‘Why the silence?’

Someone else added that she had also heard from a family member on the plane that the native population, as well as the flight crew, were helping passengers out.

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 ‘My daughter was on the flight too, she said the islanders and crew were amazing at looking after everyone. Thank goodness everyone is safe.’

As the traveler’s woes unfolded in real-time, relatives continued to shed new light on the strange incident, including how the plane was forced to spend hours circling the runway early Friday before landing because the runway didn’t have enough lights for the craft – a Boeing 787 – to safely land.

Further heightening the danger of the situation was the fact that the runway at Pago Pago International Airport, also known as Tafuna Airport, is only 10,000 feet – just 1,000 feet more than the 10,000 feet required to receive such a large aircraft. 

The father of one stranded passenger was quick to point that out.

‘I’m thankful the runway is 10,000 get as their Boeing 787 needs 9,000 feet,’ he wrote around 7:30 pm Saturday – still more than seven hours before a rescue craft was chartered to rescue the group.

Another parent of a passenger revealed that the plane had been grounded because it had ‘lost one of its two engines,’ and that ‘the plane had to circle Pago Pago for an hour, until daylight, as the 10,000 foot runway does not have lights.

‘They had to circle the island until sunrise,’ he wrote. ‘We are blessed the and pilots and crew navigated the situation well. The kids and passengers were well cared for by the islanders.’

Later on, he reported that his daughter on the flight had  ‘quite an adventurous day,’ receiving ‘a tour of the island,’ as well as shots courtesy of one of the craft’s pilots.

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Eventually, a crew headed by United Airlines South Pacific Regional Manager Susan Lilley made it to the island to end the traveler’s ordeal, sharing several photos of the ‘rescue’ in the process.

‘What a privilege to be part of the rescue flight to bring to SYD customers diverted to PagoPago,’ Lilley wrote late on New Year’s Eve. She went on thank the airport’s ‘amazing ground staff that turned the situation into a memorable adventure with heart warming hospitality.

Passengers spent 21 hours waiting for this replacement United Airlines plane, pictured at Pago Pago late on New Year's Eve

Passengers spent 21 hours waiting for this replacement United Airlines plane, pictured at Pago Pago late on New Year’s Eve

The airline didn't comment on whether the travelers would receive refunds for their unexpected 21-hour layover

The airline didn’t comment on whether the travelers would receive refunds for their unexpected 21-hour layover

A photo of passengers sitting in the terminal waiting to board the late night flight, however, seemed to show that they were less than impressed with their 21-hour detour and subsequent rescue.

United confirmed the roughly 325 passengers finally arrived in Sydney Sunday.  

‘Flight 839 diverted to Pago Pago, American Samoa to address a mechanical issue, a a rep for the airline said.

‘We made use of our facilities, including available hotel options, to accommodate our customers, and flew in a new aircraft to the island so they could finish their trip to Sydney.’

The airline didn’t comment on whether the travelers would receive refunds for their  unexpected New Year’s Eve layover.

Around 2,573 miles from Hawaii, Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa, situated in the heart of Polynesia. 

Set in the South Pacific, it is unincorporated US territory, making it a popular destination for those looking for a passport-less getaway to a tropical island.

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