Abu Dhabi – Buffalo

Driving home from work yesterday, I saw a plane on approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport that looked to be significantly larger than the 737s, A320s, Embraer 190s, and Dash-8s that I usually see living under the approach to runway 23. 

I couldn’t make out its markings, as it was still a few thousand feet in the air, so I cranked up FlightAware and FlightRadar. 

A bad line of thunderstorms was right over Toronto’s Pearson Airport, and I could see many flights were circling on all sides, waiting for the weather to clear. Presumably, this Etihad flight was low enough on fuel after an almost 14 hour flight that it was forced to divert to Buffalo. Etihad is the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates.

I wondered how they would handle that – would they fly them on to Buffalo when the plane was fueled and the weather cleared, or would the passengers be given some sort of transit visa and a bus to Toronto? 

I got my answer a little later that evening. They flew a 20 minute flight from Buffalo to Pearson, arriving about 2 1/2 hours later than usual. 

Photo of the Etihad 777 courtesy @my2girls10 on Twitter. 


  • Alan, They is Implementing Muslamic Sharia Law, with the Help of Comrade NObama, the Commander in Thief!!!

  • Not a frequent occurrence by any stretch, but if the East Coast (or Toronto in this case) is socked in Buffalo is a preferred reliever airport for long-haulers running low on fuel. The primary reasoning being that the 5/23 is a long enough runway to accommodate just about all types of aircraft and that the airfield itself has Customs facilities/holding areas and ample tarmac space.

    • Do they actually handle incoming international flights at Buffalo? I know that Air Transat and Air Canada run charters from Buffalo to some Caribbean islands, but I assumed that they were pre-screened on departure.

      • No, they don’t handle normal international travel, but there is a customs office at Prior. It’s more for the sports teams and private planes coming and going. The office isn’t always staffed. They are called in from the border when there is an arrival or departure. I used to work in the same building.

      • What Brian said. Buffalo doesn’t regularly service Int’l passenger flights aside from private charters, but it is set up to process passengers if need be through Gates 1&2 in the event of some sort of diversion or unusual event. CBP would bring in a few, and I mean a few, agents to process the entire passenger list and they would be domiciled until their flight could continue or placed on alternative transportation from the airport to their final destination.

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