SAN FRANCISCO -- The Air India flight that had to make an emergency landing in Russia has finally made it to San Francisco, where there were some emotional reunions early Thursday morning.
It was a relief for passengers and their families as the flight reached SFO just after midnight.
Upon landing, the airline handed out a letter to passengers, hoping to offer a bit more relief after such a turbulent trip. Air India has confirmed that they will be refunding the full cost of travel for everyone impacted. They will also issue vouchers for future travel with Air India.
This development comes after the emergency landing at Russia's Magadan Airport, over engine trouble.
On Tuesday, Air India flight 173 took off from Delhi and was scheduled to land the same day at SFO. The location of the emergency landing not only put the passengers in a remote location in the country but also brought up a lot of concern amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Then, passengers started posting photos and videos to social media of sleeping arrangements and accommodations there- all showing varying degrees of discomfort.
However, some travelers describe being treated very well by both Air India and Russian authorities.
Families with passengers on board explained how their loved ones got through the unexpected layover.
Sumita Bhattacharya shared, "My mom, she always says, 'When you're sad or feeling down, listen to music.' So she was singing an Indian song and all the passengers were listening to her."
ABC7 News caught up with passengers after they landed safely at SFO.
"They took us to a school over there close by to an airport and we stayed there," Alina Shah said. "The Russians were nice, they were giving us food, they were taking care of us. But we were traumatized. We weren't sure how long it was going to take and it is Russia so we were a little bit worried about that. But the thing is now we are here. We are safe and we are thankful for that."
Every early morning embrace at SFO was even more significant after the days-long detour.
Dilrha Singh, whose mother was on the flight, told ABC7 News, "She's here finally. I'm happy!"
"She was terrified, she was scared, she did not know what to do," Ileen Kaur said about her aunt's experience. "She was just asking people for help. She's never flown before, so it was her first time and this is the experience she got."
Hayward resident and passenger Raman Singh said, "I guess, at the end of the day, it's like... we made it home. So it's fine."
By Thursday morning, the 216 passengers of Air India Flight 173 made it to their final destination, saying through all the chaos, a special bond was created.
Vivekanand Vhattacharya shared, "We were like a big family there."
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