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Plane diverted due to digitaries at airport, is this common?

Melbourne, Australia
posts: 1,199
reviews: 15
Plane diverted due to digitaries at airport, is this common?

Flying Melbourne to Denpasar a few weeks ago with Garuda and the pilot advises us we are about to land. We notice another large plane to our right and not far off that also seems to be descending. “Strange” me thinks. After a few minutes we do a bit of a left turn, then another left and then I realise we are going around in circles. Silence from the cockpit, blank stares from the flight attendants. After a while we see a plane come from our right and go underneath us then our plane straightens up and begins a slow climb and I look out the window and notice the island of Bali is disappearing behind us. Finally an incomprehensible announcement is made and the FA then explains that Denpasar is closed and we have to fly to Surabaya where we will sit on the tarmac and wait until Denpasar is open again. When we land at Surabaya we are number 8 in what turns out to be a line of 9 diverted flights. What could be the reason for the airport closing, flood, fire, plane crash, terrorists, we wonder? Nope, the Indonesian President is flying in to plant a tree with the footballer player Renaldo so 9 plane loads of tourists get shunted off to another island. Is this sort of thing common?

16 replies to this topic
Sydney,Aus
posts: 148
reviews: 2
1. Re: Plane diverted due to digitaries at airport, is this common?

and I thought you were going to say kev was on the way to help someone.....

South Pole
posts: 15,418
reviews: 39
2. Re: Plane diverted due to digitaries at airport, is this common?

when airforce one is in the air and going somewhere with u know who on board, lots of airspace closed and airport of destination restricted.

a PITA but the way things are these days no one wants to take any chances.

London.UK
posts: 3,636
reviews: 1
3. Re: Plane diverted due to digitaries at airport, is this common?

I was googling digitaries for ages ;-)

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
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reviews: 5
4. Re: Plane diverted due to digitaries at airport, is this common?

>> I was googling digitaries for ages ;-) <<

LOL. I don't think they've closed airspace for Messrs Gates, Jobs (RIP) or Zuckerberg. :-)

But yes, they certainly do over here for POTUS, and during election year for major candidates. I've been lucky in these situations. I had a flight that just made it out of PDX before Air Force One in 1998 (carrying President Clnton). My colleagues'' later flight to SFO (on United, I was on Alaska) scheduled for 30 minutes after me, was delayed 2.5 hours. And in 2004 I just made it back to PDX before shutdown because of (candidate) John Kerry.

Dublin, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Seminyak, Ubud, Bali, Dublin
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5. Re: Plane diverted due to digitaries at airport, is this common?

It's a classic in DPS when the president or foreign dignitaries are flying in or out, it happened with Australia's PM as well.

Note that in october for the APEC meeting there are announced closures of DPS while heads of state arrive and later depart.

Edited: 5:48 am, July 21, 2013
norfolk
posts: 7,046
reviews: 30
6. Re: Plane diverted due to digitaries at airport, is this common?

during the sitting of the u.n. a few years back, we were held back by armed police from a huge area of new york city, around the south sea port and battery park. almost all the coastal part of downtown was closed. the reason? POTUS was flying over in a helicopter.

Boston
Destination Expert
for Boston
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7. Re: Plane diverted due to digitaries at airport, is this common?

Well if Air Force One is landing at US airports they will put your plane in a holding pattern been there done that.

Pittsburgh...
posts: 310
reviews: 57
8. Re: Plane diverted due to digitaries at airport, is this common?

Yes, it's very common. Typically happens to me twice a year (but I am on 150+ flights a year, so it's just a numbers game). It is wise when booking flights to avoid any destination where dignitaries/celebrities/people of political importance will also be in town.

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
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9. Re: Plane diverted due to digitaries at airport, is this common?

Hi,

It kind of depends who is involved and where you're at.. Its not uncommon for VIP movements- like a Head of State (national or visiting) - or someone else designated by the local national government as having VIP status, to have their flight handled like that.

You can have things like a TRF or Tenporary Flight Restriction bent issued, which sets out very restrictive guidelines for the operation of any kind of aircraft in the TFR designated area..

But... It kind of depends on where you are and what kind of security that the movement will operate under.. Some areas issue notices to everyone - local airports as well as operating carriers to that impacted airport- well in advance telling them that on X date and Y time, there will be a VIP movement, therefore there will be restrictive use of the airport itself - to include ramp and aircraft movement areas- as well as the general airspace around it...

However in other cases the VIP movement isn't disclosed until very close to time.. Again, the local or national government usually has the final say in these things under what security program they'll use... and it usually involves coordination with the foreign government if the movement is a foreign entity.

When it does happen the commercial carriers just have to deal with it as there's not a whole lot that can be done.. If its a movement that's advance notice- sometimes they'll proactively alter the departure, route or arrival times.. But these movement aren't usually long in duration - a few hours at best for a simple arrival or departure - so most carriers will just work around it as it develops.

Travel Safe,

Detroit, MI
Destination Expert
for Detroit, Travel Gadgets and Gear
posts: 4,893
10. Re: Plane diverted due to digitaries at airport, is this common?

Delays are common, but I would think diversions are due to very bad planning. Here the POTUS schedule is well known and airspace closures are announced in advance - you don't want to be a private pilot who accidentally gets to close to Air Force One. Can also snarl road traffic as the motorcade moves through town.

Of course there is the classic Clinton haircut. Didn't realize its been 20 years. nytimes.com/1993/05/21/us/haircut-grounded-c…

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