Airline passengers endured a 13-hour flight to nowhere after their plane to New Zealand was forced to turn back mid-flight

  • An Emirates flight from Dubai to Auckland had to turn back halfway through its 8,824-mile journey.

  • Passengers spent around 13 hours in the air, only to end up right where they'd started.

  • The aircraft couldn't land at Auckland International Airport due to major flooding and heavy rain.

Passengers spent more than 13 hours flying onboard an Emirates flight only to land right back where they'd started.

Flight EK448 departed from Dubai International Airport at around 10:30 a.m. on Friday but was forced to turn back almost halfway through its 8,824-mile journey because of major flooding at its destination in Auckland, New Zealand. It landed again in Dubai shortly after midnight, data from Cirium and FlightAware showed.

Auckland International Airport shut its domestic and international terminals on Friday after heavy rain caused widespread chaos and triggered a local state of emergency. According to the airport's website, no international flights would be permitted to arrive until at least 7 a.m. local time on Sunday. Domestic arrivals and departures would be permitted from 12 p.m. local time on Saturday, it said.

Emirates flight EK448 is scheduled to attempt its journey to Auckland again on Sunday.

A spokesperson for Emirates told Insider: "We regret the inconvenience caused to customers. Emirates will continue to monitor the situation in Auckland and issue updates where required."

Passengers on board an American Airlines flight had a similar experience after their 10-hour journey from Dallas Fort Worth airport to Auckland had to head back to the US partway through its journey on Friday, Paddle Your Own Kanoo reported.

Air New Zealand diverted its long-haul international flights to Christchurch, per Paddle Your Own Kanoo.

A spokesperson for American Airlines said: "We plan to resume our operation on Saturday, January 28. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and make any additional changes to our operation as necessary. American issued a travel alert for customers traveling to and from Auckland, allowing customers to rebook without change fees."

The weather also seriously impeded local travel in Auckland. More than 2,000 people stayed overnight within the terminals due to the flooding, Auckland Airport said.

In a statement, Auckland airport chief executive Carrie Hurihanganui said: "This has been a significant event that has put our city into a state of emergency, and certainly the airport has never been tested in this way before. But the delay to reopening is necessary to ensure travelers' safety."

Auckland Airport did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

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