Passengers asked to pay for repair so LOT plane can take off
After a Boeing 787 Dreamliner hydraulic pump broke down, 249 passengers on board LOT Polish Airlines flight LO92 were asked to foot the bill for repairs so they could take off.
LOT Polish Airlines flight LO92 was supposed to take off from Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) to Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW) on November 12, 2018. Passengers were asked to pay for the replacement of the hydraulic pump that broke down on the aircraft they were to board - a Boeing 787 Dreamliner (registered as SP-LRH).
The flight crew noticed the problem upon arriving in Beijing during the after-flight checkup. However, according to LOT Polish Airlines, a Boeing employee asked for a payment in cash to carry out the repair, as reported by Polish media Newsweek. “He had no right to do it, because our settlements are cashless,” said LOT spokesman Adrian Kubicki.
The plane had already been grounded for ten hours in Beijing when an unusual “fundraiser” was organized by a LOT employee that wanted to accelerate the departure. “Some passengers were solicited by a representative of the LOT,” said a passenger to Polish TVN24 channel. “It was finally possible to collect the necessary amount. It was refunded to the four passenger lenders upon arrival in Warsaw, still on the plane.”
The sum collected from passengers amounted to 2,500 Chinese yuan (approximately $360). The plane was eventually repaired, took off and landed in Warsaw with a delay of 9 hours. Additionally to the refund, the four generous donors were given free tickets.
According to LOT, the fault is on their representative. “The representative of LOT should have both cash and credit card with him,” said Kubicki. “The company provides them with funds to solve similar situations. There are no circumstances that justify asking money from passengers.” The airline states that the representative did not consult with anyone before taking the decision.
This mishap is surprisingly not the first one in the world of aviation. On August 15, 2012, an Air France flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG), France, to Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY), Lebanon, diverted to Cyprus, following a violent protest that erupted at Beirut airport. However, to refuel, the plane had to land in Damas, Syria, which was at war at the time. As transaction by credit card was not guaranteed due to international sanctions, the flight crew asked passengers for cash to pay for the fuel. While unusual, the practice is legal according to international laws.
EDIT 15/11/2018, LOT answered to us:
"To the best of our knowledge, Boeing employee who was responsible for providing the part necessary to repair the Dreamliner’s defect expected payment in cash despite of the fact that two companies are obliged to non-cash transactions only. The situation is under investigation.
As it turned out, LOT station manager did not have required amount in cash. In order to speed up the departure of significantly delayed flight to Warsaw, he decided to ask for support from a few passengers whom he claims, he knew.
Although we understand good intentions of LOT station manager, from the company's standpoint the decision was wrong. Passengers should not be engaged in this situation at any stage. The money was returned to them immediately after landing in Warsaw. We will draw conclusions and consequences from this situation."