Thursday 29 September 2016

'Slight hitch' leaves visitors stranded on Brighton's i360 tower for two hours

Published 08/09/2016 | 19:46

The British Airways i360 tower in Brighton
The British Airways i360 tower in Brighton

Visitors on board Brighton's i360 tower were left stranded in mid-air for more than two hours after it broke down.

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British Airways i360 said there had been a "slight technical hitch" that had "caused the pod to halt" and sent engineers to resolve the issue.

The i360 pod was carrying a private party of 200, including two pregnant women, who boarded the pod at around 5pm.

Tim Jones, one of the party organisers, said it was an "ironic" turn for the evening, which had been planned to celebrate the i360's opening.

The financial advisor, 45, said: "We weren't very high up when we juddered to a halt and we were told by staff to move to one side of the pod to 'recalibrate the weight' - which made some people a bit nervous.

"It was an interesting experience, and quite ironic as the party was organised by four local businesses who wanted to come together to celebrate the tower's opening."

The tourist attraction, which opened last month, claims to be the world's first "vertical cable car", lifting guests 450 feet into the air for a 360-degree view of the Brighton coastline.

Ordinarily the ride from top to bottom takes between 20-30 minutes and Mr Jones said a "massive" queue had built up on the ground by the time the pod was brought down.

Mr Jones' party had planned a reception at the nearby Alfresco Brighton restaurant at 5.30pm, but their plans were scuppered when the ride ground to a halt.

Restaurant owner Alex, who declined to give a surname, said: "They were stuck up there for more than two hours before they were brought back down. It was an hour and 50 minutes before the fire crew turned up, and they left about 10 minutes later.

Mr Jones said that, while there were no injuries and all passengers were eventually brought down safely, he hoped the problem would be a learning curve for British Airways i360.

"They have learnt a hard lesson about interacting with customers this evening," he said.

"Only two interactions were made over the two hours and they kept pretty quiet about the free bar and the emergency toilet until we were nearly on the ground.

"We fully support the i360 and think it is a great venture for the city, so we hope they can find out what went wrong and take it from there. It's certainly given us something to talk about for the rest of the evening."

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