LOT Polish Airlines passengers stuck in Beijing were amazed to be asked for cash to pay for repairs to the plane.
It is being reported – and the airline has confirmed – that a LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was allowed to depart from Beijing to return to Warsaw only after cash was collected from passengers to fix a technical problem.
A fault occurred with the plane’s hydraulic pump when the plane landed in Beijing, and an employee at the warehouse there insisted that repairs could only be paid for in cash.
The aircraft crew asked the passengers for a collective 2,500RMB (€315) in cash to pay the mechanic, and the passengers and crew then waited for ten hours while the plane was patched up so that flight LO92 could finally depart.
The passengers who came up with the money were immediately reimbursed on landing back in the Polish capital and in addition given flight vouchers.
“An employee at the Boeing warehouse in Beijing refused to accept a bank transfer and insisted on cash,” confirmed a LOT Polish spokesperson, who also reprimanded the crew, saying they would be disciplined.
“There are no circumstances that justify asking money from passengers,” the spokesperson said.
On the flight’s arrival in Warsaw, landing at around 22:00 instead of at 11:40, Maciej Wilk, a member of the airline’s management board, came out to meet the passengers.
“I know that today you have met an absolutely unusual, exceptional situation, for which I would like to apologise very much,” he said, as reported by Newsweek Polska and Aviation24.
“Please believe me or not, but in fact there was a situation that a warehouse employee in Beijing refused to accept any other form of payment than cash and hence the entire confusion resulted.”
He continued: “Mr Krzysztof, our representative in Beijing took quite… an unusual decision. Nevertheless, I am grateful to him that he managed to make the plane fly back to Warsaw. All this should not have happened, so thank you very much for that. I am sorry for the whole situation.”
According to a witness’s account cited by Newsweek Polska, there had been a problem in sending the money from LOT’s accounts to the company responsible for repairs in Beijing, resulting in the decision to ask the passengers for cash.