Passengers Stuck Overnight At Dulles—First On Plane, Then In Luggage Area

Here’s further proof you should never get on an airplane these days without a handful of energy bars and one of these: over 100 passengers of an American Airlines flight out of Miami were diverted to Dulles after it had pretty much closed up for the night, and consequently they were stuck for almost two and a half hours on the tarmac, then had to wait until after 4 a.m. to get their luggage this morning. The flight was supposed to land a little before midnight last night. “We regret the inconvenience, but the decision has to be safety first,” an AA spokesman told WTOP News.

A spokesman for Dulles said:

When the passengers were allowed off the plane, they had to wait until 4 a.m. for their luggage because American didn’t have personnel on duty.

“We have a relatively small operation at Dulles and it was already closed up,” Smith says. “It took a while for us to call in some additional employees from home.”

Didn’t the airport have some advance warning that the plane was being rerouted, though? Or was it more like an airport employee happened to walk by a window around 2 a.m. or so and saw a plane sitting out there flashing its lights?

“Delayed flight sits for hours at Dulles” [WTOP News] (Thanks to Keith and Jeff!)

Comments

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  1. citybuddha says:

    Me first…unlike american airlines they last

  2. Shappie says:

    What happened to the days when airlines were climbing over themselves to get customers?

  3. JusticeDemon says:

    Something similar happened to me after a late-night re-routed flight landed at BWI airport. We sat on the plane for almost an hour until they finally opened the door. Turns out they didn’t alert the gate personnel that they would be landing at a non-scheduled time and no one was there to operate the gate equipment. Blame it on crappy internal airport communication and failure to provide pilots/flight attendants with a quick-response communication method.

  4. thesabre says:

    And that is why I fly out of National. I refuse to step foot near Dulles. *shudder*

  5. RagingBoehner says:

    At what point is it appropriate to call 911 and tell the police you’re being held hostage?

  6. hills says:

    Screw “safety” – let me get my own bag off the plane – it can’t be that hard!

  7. TVGenius says:

    When we flew into Vancouver on a late night (well, 10pm arrival) America West flight a few years back, we got to the top of the jetway and the doors were locked from the inside, and the concourse lights were off. Then we had to get all 150 passengers in the jetway to pass the message back down to the crew that the doors were locked. They called, and about a half hour later someone finally let us into the airport.

  8. Tmoney02 says:

    @thesabre: Sadly those people where supposed to land at National. So you too can look forward to the chance to do the same thing as these people if you fly American Airlines and are unlucky.

    But can’t agree more about flying out of National, I have yet to fly out of BWI or Dulles and have no intention to if I can at all avoid it.

  9. rlee says:

    I am confused. National pretty much shuts down before Dulles, I’m pretty sure. Noise abatement rules and all that…

  10. arras says:

    @rlee – they limit takeoffs and landings from certain directions (mainly over the Monument/Mall), planes can still take off and land relatively late if they come over the river

    But they do close up shop pretty early, I think most of the stores and kiosks are closed by 8 or 9

  11. FLConsumer says:

    I have a friend who works ground ops for B6(JetBlue) and has had to stay late several times when planes are delayed/diverted. I don’t understand how AA couldn’t forsee this. For that matter, UNLOADING a plane doesn’t take any great skill/training. Loading it’s a totally different story.

  12. Katxyz says:

    Ugh, being stuck all night is bad enough. Being stuck at Dulles sounds like a nightmare. It is the absolutely worst airport I have ever been to. There aren’t even chairs in many waiting areas. I will pay a lot extra on a flight to avoid Dulles and go out of one of the nearby DC airports, and would be pissed to end up there accidentally.

  13. Kitteridge says:

    Part of the complete nightmare of it all — though clearly not the whole package — is that passengers are rarely, if ever, given a time period they are expected to wait. Waiting for 2 hours in a plane is one thing, waiting for an unspecified period of time with no end in sight is one of the circles of hell. If I know I have to wait for 2 hours I’ll be pissed, but I can parcel it out in my head. Not telling me will make me insane.

  14. papahoth says:

    @thesabre: what is that suppose to mean?

  15. Speak says:

    @TVGenius: I don’t know why exactly I found your story laugh-out-loud funny. Probably because it’s so effin’ ridiculous. At least the passengers didn’t have to take turns pounding on the door until someone inside heard you guys. Maybe in the future they could leave a key under a mat at the top of the jetway?

  16. Tristan Smith says:

    American Airlines has been really bad about delayed and canceled flights lately. My friend flew American from LAX to Washington DC. Her departing flight was delayed 2 hours(due to “bad Weather”) so she missed her connecting flight in Chicago. American only offered her a cot to sleep on in the loading area and no other form of compensation. on the return flight they tried to pull the same thing, but when she complained they put her on a different flight. her new flight was departing half an hour later for the same airport even though the original flight had been canceled due to “Bad Weather”. I’m going to try and talk her into launching an EECB. DO NOT FLY AMERICAN AIRLINES

  17. TeraGram says:

    Rather than carrying one of those ginormous plastic units, I think I’d rather carry a box of disposable, sealable, travel johns.

    [www.safetycentral.com]

  18. bobpence says:

    arras raises a point about closing time for airport shops. I understand that some times of day are busier than others, but for goodness sake when I have to be there three hours early for a 9:05 flight, please open at least half the places before 9!

    Better still, going forward, any new major airports should be required to operate 24/7, with at least half of all businesses open at any time.

  19. kepler11 says:

    Unfortunately, weather diversions happen, and in this case the passengers and crew were unlucky to have to land at an airport that is not a major AA destination, thus it was unexpected.

    What would be good is if airlines could have agreements with other carriers for such contingencies and at least have a basic ground ramp service that could take care of the basics like a gate, loading/unloading, if not the more complicated things like rebooking, etc, that would wait until the real airline staff arrive.

  20. digitalhen says:

    my flight out of Dulles last night got canceled – good job it would seem. it was absolutely terrible weather in the DC area yesterday evening – it was still raining when I got my new flight first thing today.

  21. ITDEFX says:

    My fiancee works for the TSA in that airport. It’s funny how an official says they were all closed up that night when I could have sworn I dropped her off around 2:45am and could see employees about the airport. She doesn’t work for that airline, but another one at Dulles. Guess the other airline employees were sleeping as usual.

  22. MercuryPDX says:

    Not that the guys in thee tower don’t have OTHER things to worry about ( [consumerist.com] ), but would it be too much for someone to call down to the terminal and tell them a flight is coming in?

  23. mythago says:

    I suspect that paying baggage handlers at that time of morning would have rung up extra costs under a union contract, and American or the airport didn’t want to pay.

  24. not_kosher says:

    It was in the middle of the night! Weather hapepns. I HATE airlines but really, can’t you find something more interesting to report? The last time I checked the airlines didn’t control the weather.

  25. bagumpity says:

    @MercuryPDX: It’s more the airline dispatchers’ responsibility to inform the ground crews of changes in routing, but yeah I agree somebody could have picked up a phone.

  26. Mary says:

    @Tmoney02: I could be wrong, but last article I read said that when it came to delayed flights, BWI had the least, then Dulles, and National had the most.

    I don’t fly that much and have never flown out of National, so I wouldn’t know from personal experience. But living next to Dulles makes me curious so I read the articles sometimes.

  27. thesabre says:

    @papahoth: If I have to explain a simple comment to you, perhaps you need to brush up on basic comment comprehension skills (and spelling while you’re at it).

    @rlee: Yes, stores shut down early. I don’t shop at airport stores anyway. But I’ve landed at National already well past 1am.