Furious passengers were forced to spend the night on a grounded plane with little food and water after it was diverted from Hong Kong to Shenzhen due to Sunday's violent storms.
The Dragonair flight from Shanghai, with around 250 passengers and 15 crew on board, was due to land in Hong Kong just after 9.30pm on Sunday. Bad weather forced pilots to divert the plane to nearby Shenzhen.
But on the tarmac, the passengers were barred from leaving as the airport's terminals were already full of stranded passengers.
Angry passengers yelled at crew, who had to spend the night guarding the plane's doors to stop them trying to break out.
At around 7am the the passengers were allowed into Bao'an International Airport, but told to make their own way to Hong Kong.
"We were told to … find our own way to Hong Kong without any travel allowance," one traveller said. Organisers of two large tour groups faced a logistical nightmare as they tried to find transport back to Hong Kong.
It was worse for the crew on board. As late as 2pm yesterday, 15 crew members remained in the plane.
"They have only one 1.5 litre bottle of water to share among them," said a crew member's friend. "They are being told they cannot leave the plane unattended and have to wait for replacement pilots."
They arrived back in Hong Kong only at 8.30pm last night.
A Dragonair spokeswoman said the company "sincerely apologises for the inconvenience caused to our customers".
She said local immigration and customs requirements did not allow passengers off the plane and the delay was extended by technical problems with the aircraft.
Meanwhile, other travellers to Hong Kong who spent last night waiting in airports also expressed disappointment with airline management.
When Cathay Pacific flight CX715 from Singapore to Hong Kong was delayed for eight hours overnight, passenger Andy Przybysz said he received only a snack voucher worth HK$92 and had to sleep on the floor.
"People should be offered alternative flights and accommodation," he said.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as HK-bound passengers trapped on plane