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Stranded China Eastern Airlines passengers finally depart for Shanghai

June 3, 2009 | 10:19 am

More than 70 China Eastern Airlines passengers stranded in Los Angeles since the weekend because of mechanical problems with their plane finally departed for Shanghai Tuesday night.

The Airbus A340 took off at 11 p.m. and is scheduled to land in China in about two hours, according to an airline spokesman. The plane was originally scheduled to take off at 1:30 p.m. Sunday but was grounded after problems with its landing gear were discovered.  

Many of the initial 282 Shanghai-bound passengers took direct flights to Beijing on Monday and Tuesday, while others canceled their trip.

After mechanical problems were discovered on the plane Sunday, passengers remained onboard for about four hours while crews tried to fix the landing gear. The passengers were eventually told to disembark.

Crews worked through the night to fix the plane. Passengers returned Monday, but the same problems arose when the plane began to taxi, according to officials with China Eastern Airlines in Los Angeles.

Some of the passengers on Monday staged a mini sit-in at the ticket counter after they were told to disembark for a second time. Airport police were called, but there were no arrests.

The stranded passengers were put up in a hotel and given meals by the airline, but there were complications in giving full refunds because many of the tickets were sold through agents who added their own markups, according to officials with the airline.

Passengers had the option of getting a refund on a one-way fare, buying their own tickets to China on another airline or waiting until the problem was resolved.

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz and Raja Abdulrahim

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