Fliers Taken Off Plane to ATMs, Forced to Pay $31K

For fuel or unpaid fees, depending which report you read
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2011 8:54 AM CST
Updated Nov 20, 2011 6:58 AM CST

Flying: It’s just not what it used to be. The latest example? A plane was grounded in Vienna for six hours as the airline forced passengers to come up with an additional $31,000. Apparently charter airline Comtel is in financial trouble and hadn’t paid "landing fees or taxes," one passenger tells the Telegraph—which puts the amount raised at closer to $38,000. The AP, however, says the staff told fliers the money was needed for fuel. "They lined up the buses and said we would be removed from the plane if we didn't pay up," says one passenger.

News footage reportedly shows the staff informing passengers, "You have to pay." The 170 passengers, traveling from India to Britain, initially "had a sit-in," one says, but eventually gave what they had or disembarked and were taken to get cash out of ATMs. The plane arrived in Birmingham Tuesday night. A Birmingham airport spokesperson says the situation is being investigated; the airline’s weekend flights have since been canceled. (Read more strange stuff stories.)

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