Armed guards ordered 274 stranded passengers out of the Punta Cana airport with no place to go after bad weather forced U.S. Airways to cancel its flight from the Dominican Republic to Philadelphia. Several passengers ended up sleeping in a bus after the airline responded to Tropical Storm Fay by asking passengers to pick up their luggage and get lost.
Mark Watts summed up the experience for CBS:
Abandoned! We’re here in like, a foreign country, you know. And we’re sitting on the ground by the tarmac with a roof over our heads with no sides on the building, and we refuse to get on a bus that was going to take us to the front of the aircraft to give us our luggage and say “see you later.” And it’s dangerous, man!”
Passenger Mike Maney sent us this brief missive from the island nation:
Battery dying but usairways is abandoned 200 of us in Dominican republic and saying we have to leave airport without any hotel. Pasengers including kids concerned about safety.
He later added:
We’re still in the airport after being kicked out of the airport last night by armed security (they threatened to arrest one passenger who was demanding answers. We ended up sleeping in a bus because they couldn’t find any hotel rooms. Seemed all they wanted was for everyone to leave the airport. Rather than fly in a fresh plane US air left 274 passengers scrambling all night to try to get back home. Sounds like all flights are overbooked. US air should be ashamed more than I suspect it normally is, as should the Dominican republic tourism agency.
Also, we were told at first it was weather related but also that the crew had burned through their hours. Flights were going in and out. Absolutely no acceptable excuse on either the airline’s or the airport’s part. The weather only exacerbated the logistical and human incompetence of both organizations.
It is unclear when the passengers will be able to return to the United States.
Dozens of Philadelphians Stranded in Paradise [CBS3] (Thanks to Tim!)