WyreNut said…
This is a copy of a posting I made over at flyertalk.com — WyreNut

My experience that horrible day:

Left Fresno at 7:30am (PST), and the ride got really bumpy entering Texas. “Well folks, this is the Captain. We’ve been diverted to Austin due to the weather”… Oh no.

Landed at Austin, and lined up next to 5 other AA planes. After about 2 hours they announced “A bus is coming to the plane to take the passengers who have Austin as their final destination”. A lucky few deplaned, and the weather looked like it was clearing up (sun came out, etc.).

Then the promises began. “Well, they’re going to make a decision in about 30 minutes”. This mantra was repeated about every 60 minutes. Thirty would go by, nothing at all was said, then another half hour the captain would repeat it again.

My Palm TX helped me pass the time, and I was able to go online and look at weather reports for the area. Everything kept horribly dangling a happy ending in front of us – the captain’s promises, the weather clearing up then storming over again, etc.

After about 4 hours, we were really beginning to get upset. The stewardesses announced “We’re passing out what we have left – if you’re not allergic to peanuts, please take them as we have more peanuts than pretzels!” The passenger behind me (who kept repeating over and OVER – “We’re never going to go to Dallas!”) accurately observed “GREAT! They’re giving us peanuts, and now we’re all going to be thirsty as HELL!”.

The liquids began to run out. “Diet Sierra Mist? Diet Sierra Mist sir?” That’s all they had left. People began to grab whatever they were offering, whether they liked it or not. More empty promises came over the speakers.

Now things started getting serious. The lady next to me announced she had Diabetes, and began to beg the stewardesses for something to eat. She was shaking uncontrollably, and her husband looked really concerned. Her meds were in her luggage. The stewardesses found an old crusty bagel, and a milk (which she spit out instantly as “spoiled!”). Three babies were screaming at the top of their lungs for the same lack of food.

I had been suffering from claustrophobic nightmares for 3 weeks prior to this ordeal. I continually had to talk myself down from the feelings of being trapped in my window seat by staring out the window at the storm…

I began to flash S.O.S. out the window from my cell phone (it has the function built into it) in hopes to attract attention, or possibly cheer up the other passengers in the plane also held hostage next to us.

BAM! Lightning. All the floodlights go dead that were lighting the area around us. Now all the planes are in total darkness outside. I’m still flashing the SOS and suddenly, there are Fire trucks and cops outside our plane. Turns out we have a disabled man on board who needs to deplane. Fire crew personnel board our plane and discuss ways to help him exit the plane. After a long discussion (during which I’m yelling “WE’RE BEING HELD HOSTAGE!!”) they leave, and finally we hear “Well, we finally have a gate to go to!”

Cheers finally ring out from our bedraggled bunch. We begin to move, leaving the other AA planes on the tarmac. I’m just guessing 1348 was one of them.

As we taxi toward the terminal, we start to notice “HEY! There’s an open gate! There’s another one! AND ANOTHER ONE!” I counted about 5 in a row with no planes attached. WTF??!!

As we deplane, the flight crew tells us, “Don’t go far, we might just take off!!” Another stewardess informs us, “You might want to rent a car…” I ran for a restaurant, with two other co-workers as we were starving. (Umm, chopped brisket sandwich…!) We decide to cut our losses, and rent a car for the 3-4 hour ride to Dallas. We turn in our boarding passes, and they immediately sell our seats to other stranded passengers! (The plane never left Austin that night).

No compensation was ever mentioned to us, or offered. “You’re on your own if you leave!” was our warning.

Made it to Dallas at around 12pm CST.

Tried to get our luggage at DFW the next day, after speaking with AA on the 800 line. Informed our luggage would be flying into DFW at 8:45am. At 8:30am we arrived and asked the nearby AA luggage agent where the flight would arrive.

“Um, that flight was canceled!”
“Yes, we know, we were on it!”
“Oh. Well, there ain’t no flight comin’ in till about 6pm.”
“We were told by AA it’s coming in this morning at 8:45!”

He then had me fill out a lost luggage form. Had me tell him 3 items in my bag. Finally said, “well your bags are probably back in Fresno” and I reiterated FIRMLY that
1. I was on the flight, and so were my bags.
2. The flight overnighted in Austin.
3. Where the hell is the plane and my bags?!

He finally found the flight on the phone. “Gate C15, it’s just arriving!”. We thanked him and went to C terminal.

Found C15. Spoke with the baggage clerk there. “Nope, that plane’s not coming in here!”.

Oh God, here we go again. Continued to speak/tell/argue wit
h the agent that we were directed here. Suddenly the carousel starts up. My buddy says, “Hey! That looks like my wife’s bag!”. He goes over to check, and then whistle’s for me. “They’re all here!”

.The agent has the nerve to continue to ARGUE WITH ME!!! “That can’t be your plane!!”. I was ready to blow, but was just glad to find my bags and was happy about the thought of being able to brush my teeth, shave, and take my meds!

If there is any legal action contemplated, I welcome someone contacting me. This whole affair was inhuman. I’ve emailed AA customer service and received a $500 voucher from them with an apology.

WyreNutFlight 534 from Fresno

56 comments on “Comments from AA Flight 1348

  • You could not have gotten on the flight 1348 had you known that it would be 12 hours in a plane, and all but three hours on the ground.
    American Airlines did not have personell to deal with us at the airport in Austin, Texas, as we dirveted from Dallas.
    The pilots had no one to turn to that would give them answers. Not American, Not the control tower in Dallas, Not the terminal in Austin.
    No one could give any answers and we sat there.
    Since then, as of today January 23, 2007, I still have not heard anything from American Airlines by phone. The email I received was an automatic email response. We have finally received vouchers in the amount of $500, to which I doubt I will use, as I do not plan on stepping foot on another American Airlines flight again, because of the way we were treated.

  • I couldn’t agree with you more about the treatment of passengers from American and other like carriers. I fly roughly 4,000 miles/week and I am treated terribly most of the time. Good luck with your efforts trying to get them to do anything for your troubles. A few months ago I flew into DFW from Boston to make a connection to San Antonio. My flight to San Antonio was cancelled due to “weather” (but other carriers were flying, and there was an unusually low volume on our flight, funny how that works). The next open seat they could find me was on a flight 8 hours later so they told me that I could drive to Love Field for an American Eagle flight that was taking off in 3 hours. Great, I thought, that was nice. I arrived at Love Field and my plane was already delayed 1.5 hours. After being delayed for 1.5 hours they delayed it more. To make a long story short they delayed it for who knows how many hours (the whole time I watched Southwest fly in and out) and then cancelled my flight. I walked over to the Southwest ticket counter and bought a ticket and was able to take off within an hour. There has to be some way for us to take action against companies who choose not to fulfill their obligation of a service, even if the volume for that flight merits a loss on that flight. That is not our problem. Although, I saw where American posted a profit for the first time since the Reagan administration this year. We’ll see how many others will follow through with the new years resolution of flying anyone but American. If you want a lawyer for this, visit http://www.crafthugheslaw.com, he did a great job for me and he is fierce.


  • Passengers on board an American Airlines flight endured a nightmare ordeal when they were stranded on board the plane for a gut-wrenching 15 hours.

    California real estate agent Kate Hanni was among hundreds of passengers trapped on board the plane at Austin, Texas. She says the conditions were unbearable, telling INSIDE EDITION, “I’m inside this plane with overflowing toilets, the air was toxic, we could not get water, and we could not get food. I was starving.” She also said her children we scared, frustrated and upset throughout the ordeal.

    Hanni had been traveling from San Francisco to Dallas/Fort Worth when storms forced the plane to divert to Austin. But passengers were not allowed to leave the plane because the captain was denied permission to go to a gate.

    The plane sat on the tarmac for hour after hour , while food and water ran short and toilets overflowed.

    After eight long hours of tedium and discomfort on the tarmac, the fed up captain took the plane to a gate, reportedly without permission, and passengers finally were allowed off.

    Passengers are only now coming forward to talk about the incident, which happened as storms disrupted flights over the New Year weekend. Eighty-five separate planes around the United States were stranded for up to 10 hours.

    It’s not the first time airline passengers have become prisoners on board stranded flights. In 2005, passengers on board a 747 made a terrifying emergency landing at Los Angeles International. But that was just the beginning of their nightmare.

    They were stuck on the ground for another five hours with engine trouble. One passenger shot a home video as anguished passengers endured heat and discomfort, until the flight was cancelled.

    And in 1999, Northwest passengers made 911 calls for help after spending hours on board planes sitting on the tarmac in a snowstorm in Detroit.

    American airlines issued a statement apologizing over the latest incident, but the passengers believe they should have been allowed off the planes to wait out the storm in comfort.

  • Flight #1348 December 29th, 2006!!! SFO to DFW…. diverted to Austin because of bad weather. Austin AA workers were RUDE and UNHELPFUL!! I don’t know if you heard about the lady who was watching this story on the Austin news channel … She got up and out of her easy chair in the middle of the night, bought pizzas (about 20 of them) and soda, water, plates, cups and ice to the passengers from Flight 1348 who were waiting in line at 1:30 a.m. trying to get tickets for DFW. She paid for these out of her own pocket!! AA DID NOTHING!!! This was a very nice gesture and very much appreciated by those starving passengers from flight #1348. She was a nice lady who would not give her name and said that she felt bad for us… what if these passengers had been her mother, father, daughter, son, or relative… she just wanted to help. Looks like AA would have thanked her for this since they didn’t do any thing for us. I had ONE small bag of stale prezels and 2 sodas from AA in 12 hours….. but I did have ALOT of promises.

  • More comments about Flight #1348…. Believe me sitting on the plane with no food, water, drinks or fresh air for over 8 hours was not a pretty picture! ! People were standing in aisles with their armpits over your head and the only way to avoid this was to get up and use the overflowing toilets. There were no real explanations from the pilot or flight attendants, but lots of promises about food, drinks and getting to a gate, getting a bus to the gate and getting to Dallas.

    When we landed in Austin, I immediately cell phoned my sister-in-law who had driven 2 hours and was waiting in Dallas for my arrival. Her first words to me were, “No, I will not drive to Austin to pick you up!” I asked her how she knew that before we even knew we were going to Austin. She had signed up for travel info update on the AA site and a message was sent to her cell phone. She then called AA and knew more about our flight than we as passengers did. THIS IS NOT RIGHT! She also noted that planes were coming and going as usual and she couldn’t understand why we were just stranded in Austin! All of this did not make sense!!

    While we were being told by the pilot and flight attendants there was still hope to get to Dallas, I overheard a flight attendant call a local hotel and book 5 rooms…. what did that tell you??? We were spending the night in Austin!! I then phoned my sister-in-law and told her we would be spending the night in Austin and to drive two hours back to our hometown. I don’t recall the pilot or anyone ever telling us that we would be spending the night in Austin, but seems the crew knew they would be.

    Another disturbing note…. The dogs were given bottled water while we had to drink water from the bathroom sinks. The dog owners were allowed to go down the stairs and walk and water their dogs, but we had to sit all cramped up for 8 hours. Why were the dogs treated better than us???

    After finally getting off the plane, all of the restaurants were closed, vending machines empty, people starving, angry and it was total chaos. I had written earlier about the nice lady who brought pizza and drinks to us while waiting at the ticket counter after our horrible and starving experience!! Why couldn’t AA have thought of something like this???

    I thought I would drive to my hometown and not bother family again so I went to the Enterprise Counter after they told me yes, we rent cars one way for a drop off charge… This was fine with me, I just needed to get to my hometown!! After more questions were asked, Enterprise Car Rental would not rent a car to me because my drop off city was “not in their group” and there are no other rental car businesses in my hometown except Enterprise. They would not make any exceptions…. I thought Enterprise was Enterprise!!! I didn’t know they had clicks!

    I had spent several hours total looking for one lost piece of luggage which probably was not unloaded because half way through the unloading process of our plane, someone decided to leave the bags on board since the plane would be going out to DFW in the a.m. The baggage person did not know this. Another person had found out and spread the word. What chaos!!! The left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing!! Still to this day, I do not have that bag!!! I was notifed on January 10th that it had been located and where should it be delivered? I said back to SFO since I was going there in about an hour. They said we cannot send it back to SFO which was totally crazy since it had been missing for 12 days and I was headed back to SFO that very day. I finally said just leave it at XXX address in my hometown and that’s where it is… in Texas and I am in California…. and if you call them, they do not know where this bag is…..

    Finally, after the Enterprise ordel and luggage ordeal, I had no choice but to wait in line at the AA counter for 3 hours for my ticket to Dallas in the morning. I got instructions, not another ticket, same old wrinkled up one with the same everything on it, which by the way WAS NOT ACCEPTED the next morning at security and I had to go back and stand in line again in the morning!!! Also that night, actually it was about 1:30 a.m., I was given a FREE hotel voucher, FREE taxi ride to and from the hotel and was told not to tell anyone since they didn’t have very many. I told the ticket counter person that I would not be using the vouchers since it was so late…. I prefer a voucher for travel not a hotel for a few hours. He had no comment, except write a letter to AA.

    Now after all of this, I needed to find a good spot somewhere to sleep so I could wake early in the a.m. and catch the flight out to Dallas. Guess where?… on the floor … near the ticket counter… what a pitiful disaster Austin was!!! I hope I never get stranded there again!!

    My baggage is still in Texas because they couldn’t send it back to SFO…. and getting a claim form to fill out for lost baggage took 19 days to get to me by mail. Emails are still not answered after 2 weeks.

    I did receive an apology form letter with a $500 voucher just a few days ago for AA air travel to be used within one year. I have not received compensation for the lost baggage that never arrived, not any advances for items to be purchased while they were looking for it…. and the AA customer relations won’t even answer my emails.

    I have joined this group because of the what happened to me and I want to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you or to myself again!!!

  • I would venture a guess that your comments section will be way overwhelmed in short order once the word gets out regarding this grassroots effort.

  • I was on the infamous flight 1348 as well. The events that happened that day (and the next day for some) will never be forgotten. The chaos that occurred on that flight is something I never thought I would have to have endured. No one, from the pilots, to the flight attendants, to the Austin airport employees had any clue what to do. This definitely changes my perception of the people “in control” as I sit on my next plane. We all understand that weather plays an important role in air travel and as passengers we understand there will be delays. It’s how we were treated during this delay and the steps that were taken (or not taken) to remedy the situation that need attention. Having us sitting on the tarmac in Austin, TX from somewhere around 12 noon til 9pm is absurd. As the storms came and went, we sat at our window watching other planes take off and land. We’re told there were no gates to take our plane to. What about the planes that just took off? Didn’t they come from a gate? I was fine for the first few hours, but as I began to get light-headed from hunger and thirst, I started to panic. The walls were beginning to close in on me. People were now standing in the aisles because (1) they had to stretch their legs and (2) the pilot promised that a bus would come to pick us up so everyone barged there way to the back door only to just stand their for hours because no bus ever came. I asked for food – I got a bag with about 4 pretzels in it. The toilets were disgusting and now we had no water to drink. The air was stagnate. It’s not like you can open a window for fresh air. Verbal altercations started between the pilot and passengers. I felt like I was in a scene from Die Hard. It was crazy. Finally the pilot takes us to the gate without permission from the tower. Can you imagine how many passengers are watching out the window hoping we don’t get hit by another plane? We finally make it to the gate. Elated to finally be in the airport, we now find out that the nightmare has only just begun. No one to tell us what to do, where to go, where are bags are. All restaurants are closed. Still light-headed, I have to make a decision – run to the ticket counter to find out what I’m supposed to do, or leave the airport to find some food. I choose the former. I feel if I pass out, then at least I will get someone’s attention. Two people working the entire AA ticket counter. Hundreds of passengers in line – and growing. The people in front of me, who were on the same flight as me get vouchers for a free hotel. I get nothing. Some people get vouchers for food – I get nothing. A day later after a few more hours of delay, I finally reach my destination.

    Something needs to be done to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

  • I agree with all passengers that this was an unfortunate incident.
    But what suggestions do you have for improvement considering that passengers were not at their intended destination? Also, keep in mind there are security issues that must be complied with.
    My suggestions?
    Bring in someone to service the plane. Could be contractors, could be employees working overtime. Clean the restrooms and provide some beverage and perhaps a snack – although I think AA has dicontinued snacks on all domestic flights in coach.
    What would you suggest? This will happen again when air carriers are faced with service disruptions.

  • Getting stuck on the tarmac, often in sight of the gate seems to be increasingly common. A ground delay on landing of 45 minutes or more has happened to me at 6 different airports on 3 continents in the last two years (several different airlines).

    I’m not a big fan of more laws, but traveling over 100K miles/year it has sure gotten painful and market forces don’t seem to be helping the situation so maybe that is what is needed.

    I’ve posted a link to your site & efforts on the home page of our photo info site (nikondigital.org) where we also have spirited discussions of how best to try to travel with photo gear (a whole separate set of growing problems).

    Thanks for your efforts to drive this issue.–David Cardinal

  • Hi there,

    I just read about your situations on the travel trade publications this morning. I’m a travel consultant, and I wanted to voice my support.

    Over the years, I’ve seen the airlines take severe advantage of their passengers…charging higher ticket fares, and cutting passenger services. They’ve raised their fares, cut back on employees (you now have to check yourself in), and the rude and discourteous service from the employees that are still there. They’ll continue to do as they wish, unless someone reins them in.

    Please advise if you need signatures to provide to Congress (I’m sure I know enough people that would be happy to sign a petition). This is long overdue in coming, so I just wanted wish you luck and try to support you in this fight.

  • I got to SFO with enough time to get coffee. I got to the gate five minutes before boarding began. Shortly after the first boarding call, they moved gates, from 61 to 64. No explanation was given. As we’re moving gates, I run into a photographer friend from journalism school. They move gates again. 64 to 63. We board. Captain comes on and apologizes, citing electronic failure with the first plane (gate 61). But now the door to the cargo area won’t close. It’ll be “a few minutes.” Flight scheduled to leave at 6:05 a.m., and the reason I woke up at 3 a.m., now leaves at 7:30 a.m.

    We fly.

    About two hours into the flight, captain comes on and says DFW is closed due to a storm, and we’re landing in Austin to refuel and wait the storm out. In the back of my mind, I think, maybe they’ll offer to let us off the plane in Austin and I’d as soon rent a car and drive to Fort Worth. We land in Austin, and the offer is only to let people who were connecting to Austin to begin with off the plane. We’re still planning to wait for Dallas to open again.

    We’re stuck in a plane, not at a gate, just parked in the middle of some taxi way. After at least two hours (around 2 or 3 p.m. Austin time), the seven or eight other American Airlines planes in similar situations begin taking off, including us. We’re next to last, but planes are taking off. We get all the way up to turn onto the actual runway, and the plane stops, mid-turn. DFW was open, mind you. But now the storm was hitting Austin. The plane behind us went around us and took off. We watched that happen. After 15 minutes, the pilot comes on and apologizes, saying he could’ve flown, but he saw a flash of lightning and didn’t do it. He apologizes again. The storm hit hard, we were still stuck half-turn.

    We must’ve stayed like that at least two hours, almost till dark. Then we were told a plane needed us to get out of the way. This whole time, other planes were taking off and landing to and from Austin. We could see that. Our plane was asked to get out of the way. Another bit of sitting (maybe an hour), and we move, the pilot telling us it would be at least three hours till they could get us to the gate, but they were trying to get another shuttle out to let those of us who wanted out, out. We were told DFW was closed again, but in the meantime, someone found out from whoever they called that DFW never closed. American was the only airline that decided not to land there. That story checked out, as all the other grounded planes were American. The pilot also told us they would try to get “catering” to us. It must’ve been 5:30 pm. We hadn’t eaten.

    We parked in the original spot, two other American Airlines planes next to us. After an hour, “catering” comes. It’s little packages of trail mix, meaning three or four miniature pretzels and a cheese cracker. We asked for and received free alcohol. I suggested the flight attendants have some too, but they said no. An inebriated hour passed, when things were surreal, but not so bad. At maybe 8 pm, the shuttle finally came, but the people in the back of the plane rushed it and only 15 got on. None of the families with children, the pregnant lady, or, we later found out, the diabetic person made it to that shuttle. But they said another shuttle would soon be there, or we could wait it out and go to the gate with the plane.

    Karla (my photographer friend) had a friend from the Dallas Morning News (newspaper), and they wanted to interview people by cellphone. I was first. No other shuttles ever came.

    At 8:30, the pilot came on and said he and the other two planes had decided they were going to taxi as close to the gate as possible and break TSA regulations, opening emergency doors if they had to. The Austin airport still wouldn’t guarantee us a gate. On one of our taxi-ing trips earlier in the day, we could see the terminal, and there were at least five gates open. But we weren’t allowed to use any of them.

    One by one, the three planes (including ours) taxied toward the gate. We got closer, stopped for about 15 minutes, then finally pulled to the gate a little after 9 pm. That made 8.5 hours of sitting, 13 hours on the plane, eating only four miniature pretzels. The flight crew told us to go to baggage claim three, where we’d find our bags and complaint forms.

    I had reserved a car already, and figured I’d get my bags and get out of there. Karla and I watched people from flight 1348 get their bags, but an hour went by, and Karla and I didn’t have ours. I was dizzy from staring at the carousel. We noticed a few other people were still waiting with us. Through the rumor mill, we heard that they stopped unloading bags halfway through and decided that since they were flying to DFW at 8 am the next morning, the rest of the bags would go with the plane. But there were no announcements from the airline, and almost no employees there to help anyone, so we were left guessing. There was one American employee in the baggage claim area, but she had no answers for us. I got on the phone with AA and waited at least 20 minutes, but never got through to anyone.

    The Dallas Morning News reporter was about to file her story and told us that in 1999 in detroit, the same thing happened and the passengers threatened a lawsuit. Northwest Airlines settled out of court for $7.1 million. So the last thing we did before getting our rental car was to get as much contact info from passengers still at the airport. No hotel vouchers were given (except to Cindy Welch, and even then only after she broke down and started crying), and still no announcements of anything from American.

    We rented the car, got some really disgusting Taco Bell, and three hours later, I dropped Karla off in Dallas and got to my parents’ house in Fort Worth at 4 am.

    My dad picked up my bags at DFW the next day. That flight was only an hour late.

    On Jan. 19, I received a letter blaming the entire incident on the weather and including a $500 voucher. As of today (Jan. 24, 2007), I have not used the voucher, nor do I plan to until and unless all passengers are suitably compensated for their losses.

  • Jeff, how did you get alcohol? We couldn’t even get water on Row 25. I had asked the flight attendants if we could have alcohol drinks and I was told that they could not serve alcohol on this flight on the ground.

  • I am in complete agreement that American’s treatment of its customers was absurd. It demonstrates a complete disregard for the wellbeing of its customers. But taking legal action against them as a consequnce is silly. There already exists an effective means for punishing American Airlines: it’s called competition. How about you just never fly American again? There are a few other airlines to choose from, and some have very good customer reviews. A lawsuit, or even worse, legislating a customer “bill of rights” is exactly the wrong approach.

  • @Yudl…

    Yeah, with my average of about one flight every 2-3 years, I’m sure AA will come running to my door, begging me to return when I don’t show in another 2.5 years… That’ll SHOW ‘EM! eyeroll

    Thanks for siding with us though!

    I still feel what they did to all of us borders on Criminal Negligence.


  • I work for an airline as a pilot and have seen a few delays in my 20 years. None as bad as you have been through. We as flight crew and cabin crews share your feelings. We have the same needs as you. I wish you the best at getting a Bill of Rights.

    Some help…

    Some of the problem is from things the airline cannot control. Please address these also. For example, we had to land at an outstation along with 6 other planes. We estimate there were at least 100 people on each plane. The airport terminal was only big enough to handle turbo prop aircraft from the commuter airline. There were only 4 TSA screeners. The boarding area was only large enough for about 50 people per fire code. We were told that TSA could not handle the volume so we had to keep the people on. That delay was about 45 minutes on the ground.

    An other problem we contend with is Air Traffic Control (ATC). If we are in line at the runway we keep our relative status for take off. If we leave the line we go to the back of the line.
    The airline knows this and will cancle the flight. So most of the time we just ride it out. Most of the time we can get off the ground in less than an hour.

    I personally will not suggest a off loading of passengers unless the delay is to be over 45 minutes.
    It takes about 10 minutes to off load and 20 to load. I konw some of you say that it could be done faster if people are motivated but there are other issues. Not only do you have to retake your seats and strap in but, the cabin crew is now required to redo the briefing. The load planners must redo the weight and balance. If bags are removed due to TSA requirements of passenger and bag match regulations, those bags must be located and removed. The bags may be on the top or deep in the cargo area. There is also dispatch department issues, ticketing issues and gate issues.
    Dispatch must rerun the flight plan if the planes weight canges much and the passenger name list must be screened per TSA requirements. If only some of the people get off the whole cabin crew must remain on board.
    If we stay at the gate we block it for other planes who are also waiting on the ramp for our gate. All airports have limited parking areas for unused or unmanned planes. The taxiways are not under the control of the airlines. They are under control of ATC. ATC will not allow an unmanned plane to sit on the taxi way. Except for national secutity such as 9-11-01.

    There have been a few times I was upset with the way things run. I agree that 3 hours is more than enough time to sit on the ground.

    I have only had people on the plane on the ground once in my 25 years of flying over 90 minutes.
    That day we were told by ATC expect a departure time in 20-30 minutes. This went on for three hours. I kept the people informed about every update. I also let them chose between return to the gate and give up our spot or stick it out. Most chose to wait.
    I was surprised by some of the comments that were coming form the people. One person suggested we simple change planes. This was not a plane issue but an ATC issue. ATC can only handle a give number of planes at a time in a given space. The airlines have somewhat planned for ATC loads at most airports under normal situations. Although some airports can almost always be a challange.

    An other said, “why can that other airline takeoff”. Well they were going the other way or someplace else not hampered by the weather or delay.

    “I just called my wife and she said the weather is fine.” Well first, we have to go by official weather. Second, the weather may not be at the airport. It may be on the arrival or departure paths. Most major airports have arrival areas and departure areas. The volume of planes is limited. If a storm closes one or two the planes must be rerouted through the other one or two left. These arrivals extend about 60 miles from the airport.

    Even with all that, I have only once had an onboard delay over 90 minutes once in 20 years of working for this airline.

    I do ask you to please be careful about how the rules are enforced.
    I do not want to be forced or encouraged to violate rules because the airline could have to pay you.

    The pilot is always the first one to the accident and those who are killed on bad weather days are buried on sunny days.

  • This is not an unusual occurrence. In 1998 my wife was on a connecting hop from Charlotte to Columbia SC. The now deceased Senator Strom Thurmond was also on the flight and after 4 hours on the tarmack began to walk through the plane greeting and humoring passengers. Strom couldn’t even get the plane to go back to the gate! They sat on the tarmack for 8 hours in the same configuration. I thoroughly agree with this complaint. There is a point when our civil sense of right overrules the intent of the airlines.

  • The press would be howling incessantly if the terrorists at Guuantanmo Bay were subjected to the conditions on that plane!!
    It seems like the airlines would want to voluntarily fix the problems to avoid this kind of publicity.

  • Yes, I would love to participate in this. I sat on a tarmac for 6 hours in chicago with my dog on the plane w/ no food, water, etc..

    Same situation, had to wait out a storm….they don’t realize that I would rather NOT sit on a cramped plane w/ no resources than sit in the terminal again. Give me the terminal any day.

  • Just more proof that the average American service worker, whether it be airline, cable TV, cell phone provider, public utility, etc., has just become to stupid and lazy to do a passable job, and the public has accepted it. Clearly the technology has left these intellectually-challenged goons behind.

    I’m afraid it will only get worse as America dumbs-down even more. This country’s people need to re-establish some personal dignity instead of spending all their time watching NASCAR and American Idol (talk about weapons of mass destruction). I mean, this country actually sucks in most things.

  • If you have a plane full of passengers who are having difficulty breathing due to recycled air supply and a time period of over two hours, that qualifies as a medical emergency. Dial 911 on your cell phone. State the situation and request help, that should force the pilot to relinquish command of the plane on the ground.

  • Any of you folks know how to open an emergency exit? We have laws against unlawful retention so next time E-S-C-A-P-E.

    I know I’m prepared to deal with the FBI for letting myself off an airplane. I came to this conclusion after the Norhtwest debacle in Detroit.

    I’d be proud to go before 12 of my peers to explain my actions. The airlines would stop doing such things if they realized their customers will not tolerate such nonsense.

    Beware airline officals; there are more people have come to this conclusion than you know.

    Fly Safe!

  • I feel for all who have had to endure this situation. Some have commented “don’t fly American next time” or “if you don’t like it, drive”. While I find those comments dismissive and unsympathetic to the majority who don’t have the luxury of making that choice, I personally have taken that attitude to heart and DO choose to drive whenever possible. Just yesterday, I returned via CAR to Minneapolis from a business trip to Dallas. Thankfully I have the luxury of personal vacation time and the love of driving alone required to make such a trip.

    That said, I choose to drive not only because of my love of driving and flexibility to do so, but as a statement to the airlines that I will take whatever measures possible to withhold my financial support from companies that act in a way that implies the people they serve are more equivalent to a commodity than a human being.

    As this AA flight and stories of similar situations demonstrate, the quagmire of regulations, red tape, union issues and safety/security requirements has become so deep that the airlines and air transportation infrastructure are no longer able to even provide for the most basic needs of their passengers.

    My breaking point came several years ago after a number of botched flights which jeopardized days of vacations (as well as non-refundable lodging deposits), important business events, and family functions.

    Since then, with thoughtful planning, I have ROUTINELY beaten flight-delayed coworkers to and from business engagements in Chicago and Omaha (from Minneapolis). I’ve saved myself from the airport chaos and service ordeals I am no longer willing to tolerate, as well as a great deal of money.

    I applaud the efforts made here to initiate a form of “Passenger’s Bill of Rights” as it pertain to extended involuntary delays inside a plane. A formal procedure and set time limit needs to be established during which the airport, traffic control and airline are required to provide gate access the physical means for passengers to exit the plane. Accommodations should also be required for a defined set of special circumstances, including travelers with specific medical conditions, children under a set age, adults over a set age, and those with pets. At no time should access to ADEQUATE food, water, medication, basic first aid, and bathroom facilities be limited.

    While it shouldn’t legally be required in a “Bill of Rights”, my return to flying will not occur until the industry creates a more transparent grievance process where the flying public can file for a clear and formal explanation of flight delays, cancellations, lost luggage or other circumstances which cause a traveler to incur unexpected overnight delays and/or documented financial loss.

    Best of luck to all of you.

  • Are you more irritated by the absurdity of having to sit on the tarmac for no apparent reason? Or are we just spoiled Americans? Geez, the scene you describe, and I do not discount the misery, seems like you were in a refugee camp in central Africa. I agree with you that it’s complete nonsense for airlines to not to deboard the plane, but lets keep it in perspective. Also, are we willing to pay higher fares for this so called passenger’s bill of rights?

  • Extending what the fellow above said about the 8-hour Detroit incident a few winters back:
    (For those unfamiliar with the situation, a Northwest flight landed at Detroit, its destination, but did not move to offload passengers for 8 hours, claiming there were no gates available and weather was bad.)
    I wondered what would have happened if the passengers had just rebelled. In the Detroit situation, I would have threatened to pop the escape slide, figuring that I would be arrested at the bottom, thus getting me to someplace with a functioning bathroom, etc. and opening a not-easily-closeable door, forcing Northwest to PARK THE DAMN PLANE AND GET THE PEOPLE OFF. That would have come only after asking why on Earth they couldn’t just use one of the old-fashioned staircases to get us off the plane; I’ve seen them in use in Burbank as late as the 1990s and each airport must have a few around.

  • sue the bastards. sounds like a decent false imprisonment claim to me. be sure to include the airport as well. sounds like they were complicit in holding y’all hostage on the plane.

    seriously, good luck.

    did anybody ever seriously consider mutiny? i think after 3 hours i would have opened the emergency exit.

  • Here is a letter that I sent to everyone on United board directors. I received no response from anyone!
    Dear Ms Fields,

    I recently traveled on United Flt. 582 returning to Denver from San Diego on January 1, 2006. I tried to consume a lot of water before during and after all air travel. On this particular flight I had the need to use the lavatory. I waited until the seatbelt sign was off and the light for the lavatory had been lit “occupied” for about 20 minutes. I observed another passenger go up to the first class area and use those facilities. After she returned to her seat, I went to first class to try to do the same. The Flight attendant, loudly and rudely proclaim that I could not use these facilities and I need to go back and use the one in coach. I told him the light had been on for about twenty minutes. He said he would take care of it, and escorted me back to coach and unlocked the door.

    When the aircraft had landed, I ask the other flight attendant for the gentleman’s name who was so rude to me. She proceeded to tell me a few disturbing things.
    1. She refused to tell me his name.
    2. She refused to give me his employee number.
    3. She in fact, (laughing) told me that if was FAA regulation. (implying that my complaint was a waste of time)
    4. All she would tell me is that he was the flight pursor.

    I have emailed the FAA concerning the FAR. The following is a copy of the correspondence with them: Is it a FAA regulation that passengers seated in coach cannot use the bathroom in first class if the one in coach is in use for an extended period of time? Or, is that just the airline policy? Response (FAA Expert) 01/04/2006 03:25 PM Your inquiry is an airline issue. The FAA has no regulations on this issue.

    So, not only was I humiliated by the purser, I was lied to by another flight attendant! I don’t care whether it is United “policy” to discriminate by not allowing the commoners to use the first class facilities or not. If you are going to discriminate by not allowing people from coach to use those facilities, have the decency to treat the passenger with respect and don’t lie to them. I don’t even know if this is your policy, but if it is, it is just a matter of time before someone files a lawsuit addressing this matter, I.E. someone with bladder control issue, some with a stomach flu, or diarrhea. If a person with one of these issued is treated in this matter I can guarantee it is just a matter of time before one of them sues. We live in a sue happy society. I understand that along with a first class ticket come certain amenities. Having an exclusive lavatory should not be one of them. I have sat first class before and I am sure that none the people in those seats care if the coach class passengers use “their” facilities in an emergency situation. In fact most of them probably don’t even notice if someone is using the facilities until they look up at the sign when they have to go. People buy, upgrade, or use their mileage to sit in first class for: wider seats, more leg room, free drinks, free meals, and status. Not for exclusive lavatory.

    When United came out of bankruptcy, I had a lot of people tell me not to patronized United because of the pension deal. I told them that I would continue to patronize United because I wanted to do my part to help the company get back to solvency. After this experience, I am rethinking my stand on this. As consumers, we have very little control over how a company chooses to do business, and the only thing that we do have control over is wear we spend our hard earned money. Judging by the size of your company and me just being one person, I have no doubt you will send me a nice form letter with an apology and explanation of your company policy, all the while, not addressing this issue with any of the parties involved.

    On a side note: the flight attendant that I was talking with also tried to get the Captain involved in her charade, he, in an attempt to save face with the flight attendant said nothing. He neither lied, which would have further added to the problem, nor did he tell the truth which would have cause an issues between them.

  • Here’s a novel idea: DON’T FLY IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT.

    That send’s a message to the airlines that you are disatisfied, and that sends a message to competitors that if they can sharpen their act, weather providing, they will get your business, hence the term “market economy”.

    Just because we are part of the “working class” doesn’t mean we have to be incompetent, economically impaired morons…

    You realize all you guy’s are going to do by tampering with the free market is increase the price of tickets across the board. You’ll get the regulations you want, but your going to have to pay more for tickets–and that means ALL people are going to have to pay more for tickets.

    They should have just flown you guys through the storm…

  • I agree with you and say go for the Bill Of Passenger Rights. And to the anonymous and other negative comments about ALL of us having to pay higher fares I wonder has this ever happened to you? Did you have children with you? Do you have a heart? Are you more worried about your pockets rather than fair treatment of actual humans, which by the way they were not treated like. Like said the Pets were treated better than them. So I and many would be MORE THAN HAPPY TO REACH IN OUR SHALLOW POCKETS TO PAY A HIGHER FARE to NEVER go through this torturous, negligent, inhumane, treatment of any human for any reason. All involved such as the airlines, the Austin Airport, and the ATC be held accountable in this case and others of the same.


    Let me say no matter where or who you are TORTURE IS TORTURE and this was clearly TORTURE for all aboard, including the pilots and even the VERY RUDE flight attendants, as they had to make excuses and lie to cover for their company and to keep some order and calmness even though THEY were on there just as long.



    I wish more people in this world were like the lady who is a HERO for bringing the pizza’s, plates, drinks, cups, etc. during this trying time. If all of the world and countries was like her we would not be were we are in all the torturous situations all over the world. THANK YOU TO THE ANONYMOUS HERO THAT ACTED SELFLESSLY FOR MANY FELLOW NEIGHBORS FROM COUNTRIES ALL OVER…..


  • Found out about your blog from the Star-Telegram.

    In my view, keeping someone on a plane for 10+ hours at a time comes close to false imprisonment. (Yes, I’m an attorney.) This incident, the 747 incident and LAX, and the passengers trapped on the Northwest planes in Detroit back in 1999 are all victims of airline incompetence and insensitivity.

    I am all in favor of suing the hell out of American for this incident. I strongly suggest that anyone who was on that flight and is still suffering from the after-effects (diabetic complications, claustrophobia, etc.) consult an attorney.

  • What a winy pussy. Your momma was the one the bitched about the Mcdonald’s coffee spilling, huh? You’re not getting squak cuz the its like going to war with the govt.

  • This experience sounds HORRIBLE. I am so sorry you had to go through this. I hope that your efforts will lead to airports and airlines to work on implementing procedures to deal with situations like this.

    As a flight crew member (NOT with American Airlines!) I can only imagine what that must have been like. I just want to offer some comments from a flight attendant’s perspective.

    In situations like this where numerous planes were diverted due to inclement weather, often the airport in which you were diverted may not have had the capacity to take in all those unexpected airplanes. (It’s like when you are driving on a major highway and are forced to take a detour on a small unpaved back road…all that traffic slows the movement of all involved.)

    You mentioned taxiing by 5 empty gates and wondered why you were not able to pull into those. There are many factors that go into how planes can park at the gate. One thing that comes to mind is that gates are built to handle certain sized aircraft. If your airplane was too large or too small, those gates may not have fit. Also, each gate is contracted out to different airlines. There may not have been staffing to handle the gates.

    Another thing is related to cabin crew announcements: Many, many times in unusual situations like this the crew members are also being “held hostage” and are in the dark. We are at the mercy of whatever air traffic control tells us. At my airline we are required to make announcements/updates every 15 minutes. I have to tell you, many times we just plain do not know what is going on. We are not deliberately withholding information and are just as frustrated as the passengers. Actually, we are probably more frustrated because the passengers expect us to know what is going on!

    Again, I do hope that something good comes out of this. Many times in life it takes a dire situation like this to galvanize change in the way we plan and deal with unexpected events.

  • All I know is that after the 3-4th hour I most likely would have taken myself hostage. I hope you and the others can get the Passenger’s Bill of Rights.

  • I recommend people quit embarassing themselves with their complaints about airflight. Yeah, it sucks…but hey, nobody is forcing you. If you dont like the service at a restaurant, then DONT EAT THERE. If you dont like the service from an airline…DONT FLY WITH THEM. Waaa Waaa…the conditions were ‘subhuman.’ That is the most arrogant, self-righteous statement Ive ever heard. Subhuman is living in a third-world country with ebola…not being forced to drink diet sierra mist (which i like by the way) and peanuts instead of a chopped brisket sandwich (which is coincidentally why the airlines now have to charge lazy tubs of lard for 2 seats instead of one).

  • Damn, you’re lucky I wasn’t the Captain on that flight. Complaining about Diet Sierra Mist?? How ’bout a large, frothy cup of Shut the Fukc Up!


  • To the flight attendant that commented “from a flight attendant’s perspective, we are more frustrated than the passangers” I say to you, my sister is a flight attendant and I highly doubt you ever suffer more than the passangers as you make a rediculous amount of money, for working very few hours total in a month, you get to fly free on your off time, and you think you are super human beings with some sort of big degree or something. Anyone can make it through flight attendant school (especially American Airline’s) unless they are overweight, ugly, or completely brainless.
    You are nothing but a bunch of glorified, WAY OVERPAID, waiters and waitresses and not very good at that I might add. Pointing to emergency exits, showing someone how to hold an oxygen mask over their nose, how to buckle a seat belt, and how to float on thier seat in the event of an ocean crash (which no one is likely to live through anyway) does not really qualify you for the nobel prize. If you were paid what you are worth, airline travel would be more affordable for everyone! You suffered as much as the passangers????WHAT A JOKE!! At the end of the ordeal you got a fat paycheck. What did the passangers get? I hope you get your a—es sued off and if American Airlines went out of business, everyone would get to thier destinations just as fast, if not faster!!

  • This is the absolute worse. As far as I am concerned AA should have their businsess license revoked, and put out of business. You cannot treat people like this. I think a lawsuit om the neighborhood of several hundred million dollars is sufficient punishment.

  • Tell em to go to hell and write a letter to the CEO of AA and tell him exactly how much money you want. Give em 30 days. Then sue.

  • You’re on drugs if you think your “bill of rights” will do anything constructive.

    What will happen if passed, though, is airlines will simply start cancelling flights instead of trying to get people where they want to be.

    Sure, you won’t be stuck on an aircraft, but hey, who cares about the millions of flights per year and the number of times something like this actually occurs.

    Trying to legislate the 0.0001% of any given situation is a wasted effort.

    As already mentioned, you get what you pay for. You want better service? Hire an air taxi or bizjet charter.

  • In keeping with the great efforts of pushing forward with the Airline Passenger’s Bill of Bights, I am certain all readers here will relate to some of what has been written in these three links below, all pasted in here from the same widely known travel forum, Flyertalk.com:





  • I travel 100K plus a year and always shop for the best deal and shortest layovers between flights. Do what will hurt them the most. Choose not to fly AA until they make it right to those on flight 1348.

    I had a situation happen with Northwest Airlines where they were rude and unsympathetic toward me regarding an incident that was clearly their fault. All I wanted them to do is say, “We made a mistake. We apologize for the inconvenience.” Instead, they implied I was at fault. When I knew there was not going to be any resolution, I calmly told them that I will never choose to fly their airline again. I have held to my promise.

    Let’s unite and bring AA to their senses. Fly another carrier.

    When you look on the link below, AA probably isn’t the safest airline to fly on anyway.


  • There are three things about this that bother me:

    1) If they have no procedures in place for when this happens, what ELSE don’t they have procedures for?
    2) At the end of that, I wouldn’t have taken their “compensation” if it was doubled and first-class. You don’t want “compensation,” you want this kind of thing to stop. Period.
    3) If they think good service is costly, they should try flying empty planes because, yes, enough is enough.

  • Would anyone be willing to e-mail me a copy of your apology letter? I am involved in a customer dispute with AA as well and all I have asked for is an apology. They have told me they don’t issue apologies in any circumstance. I noticed many of you have gotten an apology letter from AA and I would like to show them with their own letter that, yes, they are capable of giving an apology. Thanks for any help on this! e-mail: sway42@hotmail.com

  • New laws will not force the air carriers to hire more people. Some of this could be a “be carefule what you asked for” type of thing. Companies perverting the use of self service machines to replace people to a help you, force you to call somebody from a call center who cant do anything for you. As a passenger, we should demand airlines have enough people to do the job. If you dont, you will get the same old service. Maybe another machine for you to look at. I am sure the employees dont want to work in that kind of environment. Shame shame……Who is listening?

  • Mr D Lyon, low blow for the NTSB link….. I guess you also think that 9/11 was conspiracy by the US government! Maybe you should fly by yourself. Get on your own plane. I would not want to sit next to you even on the last taxi to downtown NYC.

  • Last time I flew American was out of DFW and it was supposed to leave by 7:30pm. Got there after turning in my rental car and they did not delay the flight until we were all at the gate about to board. Then it was delayed in 20-30 min. increments. I found out it was not going to leave until 11:30pm because I bought a cup of coffee(overpriced of course) and the other customer was the pilot who was talking on his cell phone. The coffee seller told me as he handed me my coffee, if you are the flight headed to BWI, you are not leaving until 11:30pm..good luck..guess what? He was right. The airport was getting dark by 10:30pm–the entire passenger list was by now sitting together and getting to know each other, and we heard one of the ticket agents say, well if we can’t get out in the next hour, we’ll just cancel the flight ’til tomorrow. Keep in mind we could not get these agents to give a real answer all night.
    We finally got on, only to find that the pilot decided to take off w/o beverages, because the beverage cart still had not shown up to stock the flight. He came on and said it would have meant they cancelled the flight because DFW was closing at 12:00pm. We finally got in to BWI at 2:30am, I got home at 4:00am..with a major headache..I have not flown them since..

  • THE NEXT TIME THIS HAPPENS–CALL 9-1-1!!! Tell the police you are being held against your will and that it is a health and safety issue and an emergency.

    OR You can call a local television station, tell them you’re imprisoned on a plane and they’ll come out and cover it….Either way, you win! CALL 9-1-1 OR LOCAL MEDIA WHEN YOU ARE TRAPPED ON THE TARMAC.



  • I was on a Southwest Flight in early Nov 2002 from San Antonio to Manchester, NH, which changed planes in Atlanta. It was the day that the idiot snuck through security to retrieve his coat and thousands of flights were frozen in place by security. Ours sat on the runway for seven hours, and about 4am in the morning let us off with the captain announcing there would be a Southwest person greeting us at the gate to direct us. Not! No one was there. I am 65 years old, on heart medication and I was left carrying a heavy bag in some underground catacomb like endless terminal walking for more than an hour, lost, no one to ask questions of, everything was closed, left to wander down the wrong corridors in the airline terminal. It was a huge nightmare that could have been solved if a Southwest personnel was at the gate once we debarked to direct us. It would have taken no more than 20 minutes and I honestly thought I was going to die that night I was so lost and exhausted. I finally got a flight back to Manchester at 11:30 am, but I never wanted to fly again because of this horrible experience. Sitting on the plane for so many hours, without food or any intelligent explanation was torture. For all we knew the world had blown up, after all we were only several months away from 911 and in this instance, a lack of information was more frightening than any bad news the pilot could have delivered. I wholeheartely support a passenger’s Bill of Rights and commend your courage and committment to make it happen. I have signed the Petition and wish you well in your efforts to improve airline travel.

  • Somebody needs to contact me – I can help in your efforts on behalf of the passengers. I was a Customer Service Supervisor for USAIRWAYS and was fired because I blocked 6 seats for volunteers we needed off a flight to BWI on 1/2/07. The flight was both oversold and weight restricted and it was possible with not enough volunteers that some passengers would have to be denied INVOLUNTARILY. I blocked seats on the next flight to BWI to protect these passengers AND to meet the airlines’ VOLUNTARY passenger commitment of getting them there within 4 hours of their scheduled arrival time. By blocking these seats, they said I could have caused a substantial loss of revenue to the airlines by them not being able to sell these seats. We are not allowed to talk to the media, etc. when we are employed there or could be fired. Well, now I don’t work there anymore and was fired for doing my job of protecting my passengers (who already had given revenue to the airlines!) I can now provide significant information and documentation to not only help with your efforts to pass a passenger bill of rights, but also to tell all of the flying public how safe it really is not to fly and why!

  • Everything started to deteriorate when smoking was banned on flights, and has only become worse over time. Remove the smoking ban, and it will send a signal to the carriers that passengers are not spam in a can. Also, ban babies on flights.

  • I read your article in the Austin newspaper today. It was very good. I would like to add some info. I live in Austin. I moved here from the Bay Area a few long years ago. I can guarantee Austin, in general, is very backward-despite all the “cool” propaganda written about it. Most companies, gov. entities, etc.- including the airport, are run very badly-very unprofessionally, to say the least. It is very common to not get return phone calls,emails or action of any kind from most companies or entities here. Coming from a civilized part of the country-this was a shock to me. People here are not used to being held accountable or acting professionally. I know this stranding occurance has occasionally happened in other parts of the country-but it comes as NO surprise to me you would be stuck 9 hours at the Austin airport.

  • As an American Airlines Flight Attendant I would like to say I am sorry for the experience you and your fellow psngs went through. As a flight attendant I know these things can happen but be assured the crew didnt want to be there any more than you did. After the incident with NW many years ago I was totally in support of a psng bill of rights and to this day I still am.

  • In 2002 Qantas Flight out of Sydney had a problem and wd not take off till fixed. Within 20 minutes all passengers were deplaned and we spent about 3.5 hours in the airport with a ten dollar lunch voucher till we could be reinspected and board and take off. I am grateful to Qantas for what it did. That is the difference between a good airline and AA.

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