Passengers on a Delta flight from New York's JFK airport to Los Angeles had major delays before the flight took off, 18 hours after it was originally scheduled.
Delta flight DL975 was to leave New York at 3:30 pm. on Wednesday. It was initially delayed by an hour and pushed back from the gate at 4:27 p.m., according to data from FlightAware.
However, the first delay led to a ripple effect of further delays, and passengers said that poor communication and lack of helpful help and facilities made the situation worse than it should be.
"It was so upsetting," Eloise Moran, a passenger on the run, told Business Insider in a telephone interview.
Among the passengers were a number of celebrities, including Tina Knowles-Lawson – Beyoncess's mom – Dacre Montgomery, from the Netflix show "Stranger Things," and several casts from the ABC program, "Dancing with the Stars."
Emma Slater, who performs on "Dancing With The Stars," tweeted a video showing live passengers eight hours into the saga, when a Delta gate agent told them they would not get hotel rooms for the overnight delay.
"Shameful," she said. "@Delta told hundreds of passengers on flight 975 (after waiting for the tarmac for a total of 8 hours and having to get off the plane twice for many reasons, including mechanical) that they will not offer hotels for us."
Passengers said they taxed for hours, ended up leaving the plane and boarding twice, and were eventually told that the flight would not depart until Thursday morning.
Numerous passengers on Twitter said they were on the plane for four hours at a time, spending a total of eight hours on the tarmac before the flight was delayed overnight.
"I live on this plane now," tweeted Matthew K. Begbie, who said he was on the run. "I forgot how the world outside this plane is. Babies are born. People are dead. The world is lit, but flight 975 is forever."
Why passengers were told that delays continued to pile up
According to Moran, a New York-based writer, passengers boarded on time, but the plane could not push back right away due to a mechanical problem with the loading door.
"The mechanic ended up fixing it," said the pilot, but then it was predicted bad weather, "she said.
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After it was fixed, she said, the plane taxied it again before the pilot announced that they were forced to change scheduled routing due to weather issues. They also had to taxi to another runway. When they got there, flights were held because of thunderstorms. Finally, around 8pm, the aircraft returned to the port because one of the pilots reached its FAA-mandated maximum number of hours before needing a rest period, often known as "timing out".
Passengers had been on the plane for a total of four and a half hours after this point, according to Moran. The Ministry of Transport requires airlines to allow passengers to leave after three hours – Delta told Business Insider that it returned to the port in time to meet this requirement.
Moran said that passengers were told that the flight would leave around 10:30. At this point. She said Delta did not offer dinner coupons, but most passengers she could see went to find dinner at a terminal restaurant anyway.
At 10.30am the passengers boarded the plane, appreciated to the runway, waited in line for the runway – and then turned around again. The crew announced that one of the pilots had officially left.
The pilot told passengers that customer representatives would return information and hotel vouchers back to the terminal, according to Moran, who says it never happened. Passengers got off the plane, in what Moran described as "an angry bully", around 1pm. Customer representatives offered food vouchers – although restaurants were all closed – but no hotel vouchers.
Moran, who was staying overnight in the terminal, said she saw passengers, including children and the elderly, sleeping on the floor.
Finally, the passengers got back on the plane around 9:30 am on Thursday, before taking off.
Delta's Passenger Response
Moran said she has been offered a $ 100 and 5,000 Delta SkyMiles travel voucher, worth a baseline of about $ 50. She originally paid $ 600 for her basic financial ticket to visit a friend for her birthday.
"As if I even want to travel with Delta again, after that," she said. "It's lost earnings, too. I could have worked yesterday if I knew the flight would be so delayed."
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Although Delta has the lowest cancellation rate for some of the most important US airlines have been criticized for delaying flights for an unreasonable amount of time to avoid canceling them.
On Tuesday, the airline issued weather exemptions that covered the New York region due to expected storms. Operations at JFK have been affected repeatedly this summer due to frequent weather, as well as repairs on one of the runways, which have been closed since April. Construction is expected to be completed by November.
In a statement, Delta apologized to customers:
"Delta asks customers to apologize on flight 975 flying from New York-JFK to Los Angeles, which was delayed last night due to the weather affecting the northeast Customers were offered water and snacks, pillows and blankets in the terminal before the flight departed at approximately 10am to Los Angeles Thursday morning. "
The airline also told Business Insider that it planned to offer passengers a gesture of benevolence for further apology. It was not immediately clear whether it was referring to the $ 100 coupon and Moran being offered $ 5,000.