A massive winter storm forced an Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger jet, to divert to a small New York airport around 1 p.m. ET on Thursday after heavy winds and whiteout conditions closed runways at its intended destination: John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The 325 passengers aboard Singapore Airlines Flight 26 from Frankfurt, Germany, found themselves on a snowy runway for more than three hours at humble Stewart International, about 80 miles north of JFK.
Passengers were leaving the plane after 5 p.m. ET using outdoor stairs, according to Manoel Gerlach, a passenger aboard the plane who was traveling with his wife and toddler son.
The sight of the giant plane, whose 262-foot wingspan is more than double that of a Boeing 737, was unusual for the airport, which is dwarfed by JFK in terms of passenger traffic. In 2016, about 137,000 passengers boarded at Stewart. At JFK, some 29 million passengers boarded, according to the Department of Transportation.
The airport's 11,800 foot runway can easily accommodate the large plane, and the airport even bills itself as an "efficient diversion airport" because the runway is so long. But the airport's gates aren't high enough to reach the plane's doors. Stairs were brought to the aircraft and passengers exited the plane into the outdoors, Gerlach said.
Singapore Airlines transported the passengers to New York by bus. transportation to New York for the passengers, a spokesman said.