Stranded in Micronesian paradise

This week’s trip report had all the makings of a holiday in paradise… a nice resort, beautiful beaches and a fantastic diving scene. Our member was travelling to Chuuk, a picturesque island in the tiny nation of Micronesia. So how did it all go so wrong?

Our member headed from Australia to Micronesia for what was supposed to be a week of wreck diving in a part of the world renowned for this. There is only one airline flying in Micronesia, so our member had little choice but to fly United. The first leg from Cairns to Guam was relatively uneventful, but things started to take a turn for the worse on the subsequent United “island hopper” flight to Chuuk.

Then the fun began…We boarded the Guam-Chuuk flight, which is the island hopper that goes Guam-Chuuk-Pohnpei-Kosrae-Kwaj-Majuro-Honololu. We took off on time and everything seemed to be going ok, as it’s only a 75 minute flight. We were coming into land when the pilot aborted the approach. We thought that he’d pulled out to go around again for some reason, but he just kept going to Pohnpei. We didn’t land in Chuuk. After landing in Pohnpei, all the Chuuk passengers were told to get off the plane and that the local ground crew would take care of everything. And welcome to hell…

According to our member, United handled the situation from this point on abhorrently. After leaving their passengers stranded in Pohnpei, United wiped their hands of any responsibility. The airline refused to provide hotel accommodation, and most of the hotels were full anyway. Flights between Pohnpei and Chuuk, our member’s destination, are not daily and the few flights that were operating were completely full. United also refused to send a rescue flight. Seeing no other possibility to get to Chuuk and resume their holiday, our member decided to take matters into their own hands.

This backflipping went on for a couple of hours, before I finally just slipped a few hundreds in my passport the next time the United guy came and asked me for it. I got off the standby list 15 minutes later, albeit with a seat in Y.

After finally arriving in Chuuk, our correspondent was finally able to start diving. Despite a bitter aftertaste following the diversion ordeal, the diving did indeed prove very good. The resort also proved a good find.

I think I finally understand why people rave about the place. It’s the first time I’ve gone wreck diving in my entire life and had a “wow!” moment.

It would seem that while our member enjoyed the destination, the problems at the beginning spoiled the rest of the week. How did the return trip pan out? Did United manage to redeem themselves? Follow the saga HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]