Travel rush
People wait in a TSA line at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Image Credit: AP

Passengers boarding a trans-Pacific flight from Auckland to New York on Thursday evening had no idea of the rude awakening that awaited them: a 16-hour ordeal that saw them back at square one.

Air New Zealand Ltd. Flight NZ2 should have touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport Terminal 1 at 5:40 p.m. local time, but a power outage threw operations into disarray, affecting at least 135 flights into and out of the city.

Data from Flightradar24's website showed the Boeing 787 jet making a u-turn about halfway into its nearly 9,000-mile (14,000 kilometer) journey over the Pacific Ocean, just south of Hawaii. The turnaround made the jet the top-tracked flight on the site, which monitors aircraft all over the world in real time.

"Due to an electrical fire in Terminal 1 at JFK Airport and the terminal's subsequent closure, NZ2 Auckland to New York was forced to divert back to Auckland," Air New Zealand said in a statement.

"Diverting to another US port would have meant the aircraft would remain on the ground for several days, impacting a number of other scheduled services and customers." The carrier said the company was working to rebook passengers on the next available flights.