"Can I borrow money?," are probably the words airplane passengers least want to hear from their pilot (second only to "We're going to crash!"). That happened Wednesday night, when Air France passengers from Paris on their way to Beirut were asked to "chip in for fuel," the Daily Telegraph reported.
It sounds like a tacky move, but the Air France flight was facing a real emergency. The Beirut, Lebanon airport was getting mobbed by supporters of brutal Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, blocking the entrance. The Air France pilot decided to divert to Jordan, but realized he did not have enough fuel. In trying to avoid the the pro-Assad mob, the plane ended up landing...directly in war-torn Syria, the Associated Press reported.
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Once on the ground in Damascus, Syria's capital, flight crew announced that they could not use the Air France credit card because of France's rocky relations with Syria. "We went down in Syria where there were lots of soldiers looking very threatening," a passenger told the Irish Independent. "We were then told there were some problems and that there was no money to pay for the fuel. They asked if the passengers could contribute for the refueling which could only be paid for in cash."
Just as people began rummaging, the flight crew found a solution. "In the end the pilot took nothing, telling us that Air France had resolved the problem with the airport. Then they told us to take off our seat belts as there was a risk the plane could catch fire during refueling and that we should run if told to," a passenger told France Info. Luckily, the passengers didn't end up having to run away from a fire into a war zone, and the plane eventually made it.