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American flight from London forced to sit on Tulsa tarmac after engine issue

By Kevin Conlon and Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 10:01 PM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • American Airlines Flight 79 took off from London, destined for Dallas
  • Spokeswoman: Its crew declared an emergency due to a left engine issue
  • The 777 had to sit on the tarmac because Tulsa didn't have Customs agents
  • A new aircraft will pick up the passengers and fly them to Texas

(CNN) -- Those aboard an American Airlines airplane from London got to see a little more of America than they expected Friday, after their flight was diverted to Tulsa, Oklahoma, due to engine trouble.

Flight 79 took off from Heathrow Airport at 3 p.m. (10 a.m. ET), destined for Dallas, Texas, according to American Airlines' website.

The Boeing 777-200 airliner made it over the United States, but not to its final destination.

It was diverted to Tulsa due to an issue with the plane's left engine, American Airlines spokeswoman Laura Masvidal told CNN. She did not specify what the issue was. Its flight crew declared an emergency before landing at Tulsa's airport shortly after 6:30 p.m. CT (7:30 p.m. ET).

One problem -- besides whatever happened to the left engine -- is that Tulsa's airport doesn't have U.S. Customs and Border Protection workers on hand to handle incoming international travelers.

That means the aircraft's 230 passengers and 14 crew members have to wait on the airport's tarmac, according to Masvidal.

The aircraft that will take them to Dallas was set to leave that Texas city around 9:15 p.m. for Tulsa. According to American's website, it should have Flight 79's passengers and presumably crew on board when it departs Oklahoma at 10 p.m.

If all goes according to plan -- this time around -- this aircraft should arrive at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport a few minutes after 11 p.m. local time. For those keeping score at home, that amounts to 14 hours after Flight 79's passengers first took off from London.

CNN's Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report.

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