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Why a nonstop flight from Salt Lake City to Europe has been stopping

Posted at 5:18 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 20:23:10-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The route for Dale Blair and his wife was supposed to be Salt Lake City to Frankfurt, Germany.

The Kaysville couple had a connecting flight to Copenhagen before flying onto Bergen, Norway. That’s where they caught their European river cruise. But something happened on that first leg from Salt Lake City.

The plane stopped – in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It wasn’t for the usual reasons – a mechanical problem or a sick passenger.

Blair says he and his fellow passengers were told the aircraft needed to refuel.

“We've all made it to Bergen,” Blair said Tuesday of he and other Salt Lake City passengers who are on the cruise. “None of us with any luggage.”

The Eurowings Discover flight between Salt Lake City and Frankfurt received much fanfare. Politicians and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf, himself a former pilot for Eurowings Discover’s parent company, Lufthansa, attended the inaugural landing at Salt Lake City International Airport in May. The route gave Salt Lake City just its fourth European destination.

Then on June 18, the Airbus A330-300 diverted to Halifax for the first time, according to the aircraft tracking website Flight Radar 24. It stopped there again all three times the route was flown last week.

Eurowings Discover flew the Salt Lake City-to-Frankfurt leg again Monday without a stop.

However on Wednesday afternoon, tracking websites showed today's flight to Frankfurt was being diverted again, this time to Toronto.

“The fuel stop in Halifax becomes necessary under certain weather conditions (strong heat and wind at a time),” wrote a spokesperson for Eurowings Discover when FOX 13 News sent an email inquiring about the detours.

“Our pilots evaluate the weather conditions before each and every flight to decide whether a fuel stop in Halifax is needed or not,” the spokesperson also wrote. “The fuel stop due to weather is still an exception.”

The spokesperson added that the airline has tried to delay the afternoon departure from Salt Lake City but acknowledged that means a later arrival in Frankfurt.

Bill McGee, a licensed air dispatcher who advocates for fliers at the American Economic Liberties Project, said Eurowings Discover shouldn’t be surprised to learn Salt Lake City gets hot in July, and that the airline is capable of factoring that into its weight and fuel equations.

“Most of [the airlines] don't want to bump passengers or not [make] more money carrying cargo,” McGee said. He said if enough air travelers complain to the U.S. Department of Transportation, it could take action.

“They have the power,” McGee said, “to step in and say, ‘Well, you're advertising a flight, but you're not operating it the way you're advertising it.’”

Blair says his luggage arrived on the boat 3 1/2 days after he and his wife did.

“I'll never fly Lufthansa or Eurowings,” he said

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