• Scheduled 11:35 am (ET) – 1:05 CT (total 2.5 hours flight time).
• Flight diverted to Houston (IAH) landing at 12:59 pm (CT).
• Flight resumed from IAH to DFW at 4:48 pm CT – total time on tarmac 3.8 hours.
• Our flight landed at approximately 5:59 pm CT in DFW and pulled up to the gate. An additional 35 minutes (0.6 hours) were required to deplane as the ramp would not line up to the plane and eventually all passengers deplaned through stairs at the back of the plane. 10 engineers were at that time standing around who could not get the ramp to work. The incompetence at this time was unbelieveable.
• TOTAL DELAY: 4.4 hours
Details while on the tarmac in Houston:
• A granola bar was offered to all economy passengers upon landing in Houston; no other food was provided either during the initial flight or when waiting on the tarmac. Orange, apple or cranberry juice was offered at that time.
• Approximately 30 minutes after landing, passengers originally scheduled to land in Houston were given the opportunity to deplane through stairs brought to the back of the plane. However, they could not get any checked bags but the bags would be delivered to them later by courier service.
• Over an hour after landing, the customer service rep brought 6 oz bottles of water on the plane which were distributed to all passengers. Only one bottle was allowed per passenger. This would be on the only water distributed during the entire 3.49 minutes on the tarmac.
Information relayed by the crew or the customer service rep:
• The captain indicated:
> We had been rerouted to Houston because of weather in DFW. Planes were landing but were in a hold pattern circling the airport while the heaviest weather cleared out. However, we could not circle as we did not have enough gas. We needed to refuel and wait for the weather to clear. As flights are usually held before takeoff when bad weather is eminent, I didn’t understand why that didn’t occur in this case. The plane was refueled.
* We were about 500-700 yards from the concourse gates. There were firetrucks and emergency vehicles between the planes on the tarmac that were not at gates, I assume because of risk of fire when refueling when not at the gate through the safety systems.
> The captain indicated that American only had 3 gates at IAH and they were all full so we would not be able to pull up to a gate to deplane. If a gate cleared, we would be allowed to deplane. This never materialized. After another hour on the tarmac, the passengers were in agreement that we would all take up an offering of $5 each ($1000 total) to pay Continental to temporarily use a gate but the crew said this was not an option.
• Approximately 1 hour after landing, I asked the flight crew and customer service representative when we would be allowed to deplane. I was told:
> If we deplaned via the back stairs, we would not be allowed back on the plane to continue our flight to Dallas. When further questioned, the customer service rep indicated it was because they had no way to determine who was reboarding which was a security risk.
> We could not get checked luggage no matter what, if we got off the plane.
• The plane started getting very hot. The crew advised us to close the window shade and turn all vents wide open. This did very little to alleviate the heat. The pilot indicated that an additional air conditioning until had been requested to cool off the plane. I do not believe that one was ever brought as the temperature never improved, only got hotter. My mother, who had open heart surgery 1 year ago starting retaining water on the flight due to the heat, and having heart palpitations due to the increased heartbeat due to the heat. She is still not fully recovered today (24 hours later) and we are now trying to get her additional medication to alleviate these symptoms fully. AA is very lucky this did not turn into an emergency situation or tragedy!
• At 2.3 hours after landing, the customer service rep again got on the plane and indicated that he was trying to get us more water. However, that never materialized.
• The customer service rep also advised that any passenger could depart the plane at this time with their bag delivered via courier at a later date.
> I asked the male flight attendant (not Brent but the other male attendant) for details, as I have family in Houston and I could get to my final destination of Waco, TX by deplaning in Houston. Specifically, I wanted to know how quickly my bags would arrive as I had a Baylor University graduation the next morning (5/15) at 9:30 am and needed my bag before then. However, I was told the bag could take 3-4 days to catch up to me. As I would be returning to Atlanta on 5/16, this was not a good option for me. Additionally, my mother’s medication was in her checked bags
and we could not deplane without it.
> As the 3 hour mark was approaching (2.3 hours thus far on the tarmac). I asked when they would allow us to deplane to the terminal. He reiterated what the flight attendant had told me, and said if I got off, I could not get back on the plane, even though the flight would continue on to Dallas/Ft. Worth. I challenged the customer service rep and said they would have to let us off at the 3 hour mark, as required via the passenger bill of rights. He said that he was following the letter of the law by allowing us to get off; but they were not required to let us back on to continue the flight that we
had paid for. In essence, we would forfeit our rights to travel if we deplaned.
> The customer service rep also threatened that there were 9 other planes that had been rerouted to Houston, with 400-500 passengers at his customer service desk trying to reroute plans to get home. He intimated that if we deplaned, our seats would be given to those passengers.
• At about 3 hours after landing, the crew started a headcount of all passengers. When I asked why, I was told that they were trying to determine seat availability for any additional passengers. I asked how they could load passengers onto the plane, but could not allow us to leave the plane and reboard. If they were able to load any passengers, that should include the current passengers for reboarding. That apparently scrapped their plans and no passengers were added to the flight.
A friend of mine who is with a flight crew from a different carrier indicated that this issue may have been created because of the unionized crew rules. Basically she indicated that the crew would have to be changed out or paid for an additional flight. Since AA would not have had another crew available since they were in Houston and not Dallas, I truly hope this was not the case of the airline putting the crew’s needs above the passengers.
If you need any additional details or information on the flight, please call me at xxxxx. I appreciate you acting as our advocate to see this matter addressed. I will be sending a similar email to AA for redress as well.
Terry A. Wassink, PMP
Certified Project Manager