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Continental blames strong winds for unscheduled landings

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Dozens of supposedly non-stop flights from Europe to the U.S. are being forced to stop along the way to refuel.

The Wall Street Journal reports this is impacting Continental Airlines.

United Airlines, which is the parent of Continental, says last month that more than 40 flights made unscheduled landings. 

In the past week, several flights heading to Dulles International Airport had to land unexpectedly. Since the first of the year, Continental passengers flying non-stop from Europe to Dulles made four unscheduled landings.

Continental uses 757's to and from Europe in an attempt to cut costs. The small aircraft has a smaller fuel tank, thus it loads just enough jet fuel to make the trip.

The airline blames unusually strong headwinds coming back across the Atlantic as the cause of these jets burning more fuel than anticipated.

A spokesperson with United and Continental says the strong headwinds are a once-in-a-decade situation. At this point, there are no plans to start using bigger planes for the runs to Europe.

"You spend so much money on international flights and then something like this," said Continental passenger Meenu Sharma. "It's very uncalled for and very disappointing."

Continental says it is compensating some passengers for missed connections or unscheduled lay-overs in such hot-spots as remote as Goose Bay Canada.

"If I get some delay, I am expecting compensation," said Continental passenger Xavier Buissocheg.

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