By Rosemary Regina Sobol
8:03 AM CST, December 16, 2013
Everything started out as planned Friday as Chicago resident Ellya Wong and hundreds of other passengers aboard a Cathay Pacific Airways flight to Hong Kong neared their takeoff around 2 p.m. from O’Hare International Airport.
Then came the “bump.”
“We thought it was ice,” Wong, 36, said Sunday, and airline officials asked everyone to disembark. She said she and several other passengers spent the next two nights at the Westin Hotel in Lombard on the airline’s dime instead of with her family. Cathay had an 8:20 p.m. flight Sunday to Hong Kong, and Wong said less than two hours beforehand that she expected to be on it.
In an email Sunday, airline spokeswoman Nancy Tao said the plane had engine trouble and was brought back to the terminal as a precaution, even though there was no engine fire or smoke. A second flight, scheduled for Thursday, was similarly delayed, she said.
“We apologize for the inconvenience caused to the passengers,’’ Tao said in the email.
The airline provided hotel accommodation and meals for 242 passengers on Thursday’s flight and 275 passengers on Friday’s flight, in addition to the 16 crew members on each of the flights, Tao said in the statement.
All passengers aboard Thursday’s flight have since arranged to depart Chicago on other flights while some passengers from Friday’s flight have also made other arrangements, she said.
Cathay Pacific has informed officials of both incidents and is looking into the cause of the problem, Tao said in the statement.
Wong, of the city’s North Side, said she is originally from Indonesia but has lived in Chicago for the past 15 years. She works in Northbrook for a construction company and is traveling to Hong Kong to see her mother, her brother and a niece and nephew but now the trip has been cut short.
“I’m meeting my family for the holiday in Hong Kong,’’ said Wong. “Now I’m only going to see them five days.”
Sunday afternoon, before her expected flight, Wong was camped out in the bar at Big Bowl at O’Hare, watching the end of the Bears game. “I feel things are going to get better now,’’ she said via email, after the Bears' win.
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