This happens way too much. There is no plan B. Plan A is to divert from bad weather and wait. Wait? For how long? I have chilled on the tarmac many a time.
It was supposed to be a routine 3 1/2-hour flight from San Francisco to Dallas.
But this story really begins in Austin. That’s where several American Airlines flights were diverted the Friday of New Year’s weekend.
Kati Hanni was one of 138 passengers on board Flight 1348.
“I mean, the fact that they diverted us for weather was a good thing,” Hanni says. But instead of unloading Hanni’s flight and 13 other American Airlines planes that diverted to Austin, the airline told pilots to wait on the tarmac until the storms in Dallas cleared.
“We expected maybe a one-hour delay or a two-hour delay,” recalls Glenn Scott, who was delayed on Flight 534.
For passengers aboard these planes, two hours turned into four, then, in at least one case, nine. While other planes came and went as American tried to keep them on schedule, the passengers in the narrow, one-aisle confines of Flight 1348 say toilets overflowed, water ran out and the only food was pretzels.
“The stewardesses desperately tried to keep the tempers and the temperament of the passengers down,” Kati Hanni says. “People were having medical issues.”
Passengers say the ordeal ended only after the pilot taxied to a gate without permission — 15 hours after the flight had boarded.
Airline officials declined our request for an on-camera interview but admit something went terribly wrong in Austin. They say there’s simply no excuse for leaving so many people just sitting on planes. American says it’s reviewing what happened and will apologize and offer a “token” to affected passengers, which for Hanni is too little.
And, like Flight 1348, way too late.