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Passengers say they were stuck on grounded Qatar Airways plane for hours amid Greek heatwave

By Catherine Nicholls, CNN

(CNN) — Dozens of passengers who boarded a Qatar Airways plane in Athens, Greece on Monday expected to be on their way to their destination – Doha, Qatar – relatively quickly.

Instead, they found themselves trapped inside a grounded plane for more than three hours, according to passenger Garth Collins, who posted about his experience on Instagram.

Not only that, but the passengers were stuck inside the closed metal vessel without air conditioning, Collins said, as temperatures outside soared above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), leading to passengers “literally dehydrating and passing out on the plane.”

Greece has been gripped by a blistering heatwave in the past week, causing popular tourist sites like the Acropolis to be closed to the public.

British television personality Michael Mosley was found dead on the Greek island of Symi after he went for a walk in high temperatures last Wednesday. This week, two other tourists also disappeared on separate hikes elsewhere in the country, authorities have said.

In a video posted by Collins, passengers can be seen standing up from their seats and in the aisles of the plane, fanning themselves and fellow passengers with paper.

CNN has reached out to Collins for further comment.

Athens International Airport told CNN that the flight was grounded while ready for departure due to “sudden unexpected technical issues.”

Qatar Airways said it “sincerely apologizes for the delay to passengers travelling on flight QR204 from Athens (ATH) to Doha (DOH) on Monday 10 June 2024, which was due to a technical issue,” in a statement shared with CNN.

Australian passenger Jennie Zeiher was onboard the plane with her husband Joe, planning to fly on from Doha to Melbourne, Australia.

Speaking to CNN affiliate 7News after she arrived in Melbourne, Zeiher said she didn’t understand why the passengers were allowed to board.

‘I’m a frequent flyer, I travel regularly, and I just don’t understand why we were allowed to board in the first place,” Zeiher said, according to 7News. “Not to mention what unfolded afterwards. It was just horrendous.”

7News reports that passengers took their shirts off to deal with the heat, with a few cups of water being handed out in the cabin.

“The flight attendants were doing the best they could given the situation,” Zeiher told 7News, adding that “it seemed like they didn’t know any more than we did about what was going on.”

Eventually, the passengers disembarked the plane. Collins says he was on the plane for around three and a half hours, while Zeiher said she was onboard for around four.

Zeiher told 7News that she received “zero information” from Qatar Airways, so she decided to rebook her onward flight to Australia through Emirates.

According to flight tracking website Flightradar24, flight QR204 was supposed to leave Athens International Airport at 1:55 p.m. local time. It eventually departed at 6:44 a.m. the following morning, landing at Doha’s Hamad International Airport at 10:35 a.m. local time.

Qatar Airways told CNN that, as a result of the technical issue, “all passengers were asked to disembark the aircraft and were supported by our staff at Athens International Airport while ground maintenance teams worked to resolve the issue.”

“The flight later departed from ATH, arriving in DOH at 10.39 local time on Tuesday 11 June 2024, where we extended our full support to all affected passengers upon arrival to ensure smooth onward connections to their final destination,” it continued.

“We regard the safety and comfort of our passengers and crew as our highest priority at all times, and have offered our apologies to each passenger affected by this unforeseen disruption and the inconvenience caused. Additionally, passengers have been informed of their compensation entitlements in line with the applicable regulations.”

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