Passengers on a short-haul flight in Japan had to fly back to their departure city after an airport barred their plane from landing because it missed curfew by 10 minutes.
Japan Airlines flight JL 331 left Tokyo for Fukuoka with a 90-minute delay on 19 February due to a plane switch.
When it was just minutes from landing, it was turned away by the airport for missing the 22:00 cut-off time.
The plane was then forced to circle until it found a receiving airport.
At first the flight attempted to land at an airport in Kitakyushu, a city close to Fukuoka. However, as the airline later explained, the plane was rejected because buses couldn’t be organised to ferry the passengers to a hotel.
The main challenge was to find a place to handle the 335 passengers onboard, the airline said.
Similarly, passengers also couldn’t disembark when the plane diverted to Osaka’s Kansai Airport to refuel, because hotels couldn’t be organised.
Ultimately. all those on board were flown back to Tokyo where they had to re-board the plane again the following day.
Passengers online said their planned two-hour flight had turned into 16-hour ordeal. But they said they had been well compensated by the airline.
One passenger on Twitter said they were given a boarding pass replacement, 20,000 yen ($148; £123) in cash and water during the night at the hotel.
The original destination, Fukuoka Airport, has a flight ban policy between 22:00 and 07:00 because of nearby residential areas.
Officials said they had allowed planes to land after the airport shutdown time if the delay is unavoidable. Such events include bad weather or runway congestion, The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported.
But officials did not regard JL 331’s delay as “unavoidable”, the newspaper said.
Flight data showed that other flights were allowed to land past the cut-off time that evening. Due to strong winds at Tokyo’s Haneda airport earlier in the day other flights were also delayed.
Flight JL 331 was the only one rejected, Bloomberg reported.