American Airlines Apologizes to Passengers Stuck On A Plane For 9 Hours

The toilets were overflowing and the passengers only had pretzels to eat as they sat grounded in Austin for 9 hours.

    What was supposed to be a 3.5-hour flight from San Francisco stopped in Austin to wait for the weather to clear, and passengers were stuck grounded on the plane for 9 hours.

    Passengers said the ordeal ended only after the pilot taxied to a gate without permission.”

American Airlines has admitted “something went wrong” and is apologizing to the passengers.

    By the time passengers got off the plane, they’d been on it for 15 hours and they weren’t at their final destination of Dallas yet. Flight 1348 took off the morning of Dec. 30 from San Francisco packed with holiday travelers. A line of thunderstorms in the Dallas area forced a diversion to Austin. According to the news report, the pilots were told to wait on the ramp for the weather to clear in Dallas. At least 10 other diverted flights came and went but Flight 1348 was told to stay put until the captain finally took matters into his own hands.

We hope that apology comes with a check. —MEGHANN MARCO

American Airlines Passengers Trapped On Diverted Plane [AVWeb]
AA Apologizes After Passengers Stuck On Plane For 9 Hours (with video!) [NBC5, Dallas]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Falconfire says:

    from how they are wording it, its seems it was AA who made them wait, that the tower would have cleared them but American told them to stay put.

    My question is… since when does some fuckups from the company tell you your not allowed to fly when the air traffic controllers who are in charge of safety say its ok?

  2. Blackneto says:

    after the first hour on the plane in that situation is when I start crapping my pants and flinging my poo.

    trap me like an animal and i may start acting like one.

    this kind of thing is my worse travel nightmare.

  3. Kornkob says:

    What’s really notable is that this happened before new years and we’re only hearing about it now. I think that 15+ days is more than adequate to find out what went wrong.

    I would think that by now we’d have heard from AA what the reason was and seen the apology.

  4. Chairman-Meow says:

    You would have thought that AA would have learned from the Detroit NWA disaster but nooooooooooo.

    Once again, I now know why I will not fly American unless it is my absolute last resort.

    Oh yeah, another thing I do when flying these days is buy some munchies and a couple drinks *before* I get on the plane. You never know how long you will be on the plane; especially if you are put in the “penality box” (aka the standby area on the tarmac). Most Airlines will return to the gate after 2 hours if the weather at the destination does not appear to improve enough for a quick departure.

  5. Metschick says:

    Most Airlines will return to the gate after 2 hours if the weather at the destination does not appear to improve enough for a quick departure

    Yeah, why the hell didn’t they return to the gate?!

  6. Chairman-Meow says:

    Yeah, why the hell didn’t they return to the gate?!

    Because some idiot in American Airlines Management said so.

    The pilot broke company rules and returned the plane to the gate on his own. Since it took the pilot 9 hours to finally take matters into his own hands, just imagine what the Penality is for doing what he did ?

    Of course now that the story is out, AA will likely not punish the crew for finally doing the right thing.

  7. MeOhMy says:

    They have an obsession with being able to claim that their flights departed “ON TIME” where “ON TIME” is based solely upon the plane pulling away from the gate. Nevermind that it sits on the tarmac for 3 years – it still left “ON TIME.”

    Pulling the plane up to the gate would have forced another plane to wait resulting in two delayed flights instead of just one horrendously delayed flight (they don’t pay attention to meaningless statistics like “Sat on the tarmac for 9 hour.” The only concern is that “All flights left Austin ON TIME that day! We are so awesome!”

    This is what happens when statistics are used to replace actual thought. The airline equivalent of using closed support tickets to gauge customer service without paying attention to the actual customer satisfaction.

    They are lucky things didn’t turn very ugly on that flight.

  8. Jupiter Jones says:

    This link has a lot more detail on this screwup:

  9. I’ve been told the airline gets confused when they return to the gate and have to reboard. I sat on a United Airbus in Baltimore for 4 hours as they replaced a computer. We could of left but I had been up for 2 days on a caffiene and alcohol bender that I used it to sleep it off.

  10. AcilletaM says:

    I had this happen to me, though not this bad. Flying back on NWA from Nashville to Detroit, was rerouted to Louisville because of funnel clouds near Detroit’s airport. Landed and put us at the gate but did not let us off for 2 hours. They didn’t have the fresh air going and the lavatories did smell. They did let us off and then some time later let us start rebooking. But we were lucky, we were one of the first of the diverted to land so we were at the gate and were able to leave the plane (eventually). From where I was waiting we could see planes sitting on the tarmac for a lot longer and they weren’t bringing them to a gate.

  11. Deryn says:

    My husband and a friend got rerouted to Indianapolis on a Southwest flight from Las Vegas to Chicago, due to a thunderstorm that just wouldn’t budge in Chicago. In total, they were on the plane 9 hours for a normally 3.5 hour flight. They were uncomfortable, but they understood the reason and neither made an issue of it.

    Unsolicited, Southwest sent both of them a personal letter of apology and vouchers for $100 (which was the about the cost of that flight).

    Man, I love Southwest.

  12. One of my flights had to make an emergency landing in Reno, because the guy behind me started having a [mild] heart attack.

    It took us an hour to land, an hour to taxi, and two hours to get medical people on the plane to get him off. We then spent the next six hours waiting for a spot to take off again.

    We left Denver at 6 AM. I got to my destination [Sacramento] at 7 PM.

    Worst flight ever. That was compounded by the fact that I, too, was hungover, as I had just gone straight from my bartending gig, to the airport.

  13. w_boodle says:

    Too bad there wasn’t an Imam on the plane. Everyone could have pointed pointed fearfully at him and the plane would’ve returned to the gate lickety-split.

  14. No doubt.

  15. Magister says:

    This is a good example of a time that it would have been good to have your cell phone and try to get in touch with local news. They would love to cover something like that. They could have stirred up AA and they would have made the plane go back.

  16. Pelagius says:

    This says it all right here:
    “Moving a plane to a gate for a bathroom break could cost a flight its place in line among the hundreds trying to leave. It could also mean the crew might run into federal time limits that regulate the workday. Unless new pilots and flight attendants are available, continuing the trip would have to wait until the next day.” (Thanks Jupiter Jones)

  17. synergy says:

    15 hours with hundreds of people?? Holy crap!

  18. InfoMofo says:

    This is my travel nightmare.

  19. Nancykv says:

    If you were on any of the flights on December 29th 2006 from San Francisco, Oakland or Fresno please contact Kate at There is a blog that has been started for the Coalition for Airline Passenger’s Bill of Rights. Please blog at
    I was on Flight #1348 and it was the Flight From Hell….. almost 9 hours on the tarmac without food, water, drink or fresh air. Please sign in and tell us your story….. Thanks!

  20. madktdisease says:

    oh my god. that’s so horrible on like 7 different levels. the part about having to change staff because of the amount of hours they’d worked, trying to get around that? that’s SCARY. would you want a pilot flying you after he’d been in the same cockpit for 15 hours without a break? I would have freaked out. I don’t think “freaked out” would even be the accurate words to describe it. and if my dog was in the hold? oh. christ.

    i am so never flying again.