Passengers spend 8 hours stuck on Air India Flight 131, just miles from destination

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Passengers aboard an Air India Boeing 777 like this one were held onboard their plane for more than eight hours over the weekend. (Photo from Air India website)

With their final destination literally in sight, passengers on Air India flight 131 were held on the plane for more than eight hours over the weekend.

Passengers on the flight from Mombai, India, to London, United Kingdom, were diverted to London's Gatwick airport after fog settled in over London's Heathrow — the intended destination. While the two airports are just a handful of miles apart — easily reachable by bus — the airline kept the passengers on the plane at Gatwick for more than eight hours, and even called the police when passengers started to get out-of-hand.

One passenger said the mood really turned four hours into their wait, when lunch time arrived and there was no food to be served. One patient was diabetic and became very concerned she wouldn't get the meals she needed.

When the passengers were finally allowed off the plane at Heathrow — after Air India made the brief flight across town — they were offered a written apology, but nothing else.

That wouldn't fly in the United States, of course. A relatively new regulation requires the airlines to give flyers access to food, water and must let them off the plane if a delay is longer than three hours, or face a fine of $27,500 per person on-board.