Customer Records His 7-Hour Delayed Flight In All Its Baby-Screaming Glory

Robert McKee made a YouTube of his experience being stuck on the JFK tarmac for seven hours. Our favorite parts:

• Passengers told new captain is making his way through the terminal, when he’s really coming in from Newark.
• Delta tells his wife that the plane is in the air. This is right after she spoke with him by cellphone and they were still on the ground.
• Renaissance music used to depict his waiting wife and child.

The ubiquity, ease, and low cost of consumer recording, editing and sharing software is quickly making it less feasible for big companies to get away with stuff like this.

(Video: Uberzine) (Thanks to Grant!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. billybastion says:

    Is this the secret video you’ve been working on?

    I know I’m being an asshole about it, but either post the video, post a retraction, or stop crucifying companies for doing things similar to what you are doing.

    PS I love the Consumerist, but hate the new layout.

  2. Starfury says:

    That was a great video. Guess I won’t fly Delta if I need to go anywhere.

  3. b612markt says:

    Makes me LUV southwest even more!

  4. dbeahn says:

    Delta, Mofo! You get your drink on and your eat on and we’ll get our sittin’ on the tarmac on. Delta, if you goin’ dare, we already flown dis big-ass plane all up in that bitch!

  5. TPIRman says:

    An earlier comment by Pinkbunnyslippers seems even more appropriate now. (The acronym, that is.)

  6. Wormfather says:

    Bravo…but yeah, what’s going on with that video that we were getting previews for…although it’s not quite the same as leaving us on the tarmac, I would equate it to blue b*lls.

    And I’m not a fan of the new layout either, but I fear change so eh.

  7. enm4r says:

    @billybastion: I assumed Ben just hoped we forgot about it, considering it’s been awhile.

    I just don’t get the announcement if the video wasn’t going to follow? If you’re not done, you’re not done, but then don’t set the expectation to begin with.

  8. alpha says:

    Funny how video is so easy to record, edit, and share (as you tell us), and yet THERE’S NO GEEK SQUAD EXPOSE!

  9. jeffj-nj says:

    Is it wrong that I just flat out don’t want to fly anymore?

  10. North of 49 says:

    as soon as the first lawsuit for DVT happens, you better believe kidnapping passengers and holding them for ransom by airlines will come to a stop, nevermind the loss of food, comforts and more.

  11. MercuryPDX says:

    You know it’s only a matter of time before someone truly loses it on a flight like that. I pray there’s video.

  12. banned says:

    This is exactly why we cannot carry weapon-like materials on planes, that could cause alot of murder-suicides!

  13. Pelagius says:

    You’ll get over it.

  14. Wormfather says:

    Wall street wonders why consumer confidence is down? Well it’s easy, everyday the Consumerist gives us at least two companies that we can shop from anymore.

  15. G-Dog says:

    I feel so bad for those little kids. Hungry, tired, scared. They didn’t ask for any of that.

    Do you think Delta will ever comment on this and make things right before the video is featured on ever news channel that doesn’t hold stock in the company?

  16. llcooljabe says:

    I was on a delta flight that spent 6 hours on the tarmac at JFK before taking off. Same thing–crew timed out, etc etc.

    Long story short, after ordeal over, called Delta to get compensation, the operator told me to avoid JFK for Delta flights.

  17. CRSpartan01 says:

    Boo to the new format!

  18. Brawndo says:

    I think it’s instances like these that serve as evidence as to why we need flight passengers’ advocacy groups. Seriously, is it legal to keep people on a plane for that long?

    Also- cute puppy!!

  19. The HZA. says:

    What were to happen if I were in an emergency exit seat and I just popped the door open?

  20. Dangerdog says:

    I’ve had strikingly similar nightmare trips with Delta. I keep flying with them because they’re often the least expensive option, but I regret it almost every time.

  21. brianary says:

    Why are people still flying?

    This isn’t going to get better.

    Tell your employer you refuse to fly, or are on a no-fly list.

    Find some alternative transportation.

  22. dvddesign says:

    What the hell is wrong with airlines these days? Have they just lost all regard for the services they provide? The fact that they manage to get any planes in the air seems to be some sort of miracle!

    Shit strewn aisles
    Nation wide flight delays over system failures at 2 major airports (Hobby and O’Hare) in a week’s time.
    And at least 6 reported flight delays of over 5 hours in the last 6 months.

    I REALLY think the airlines need to reconsider their ability to provide their services if they are consistently failing to manage RUNNING the airline.

    I have now decided that I won’t fly unless I have my video camera with me.

    Screw “passengers bill of rights”. How about basic human rights? These planes should not leave the gate until they have clearance to fly, no matter what the excuse. And personally, there is never a time when being “re-screened” would inconvenience me for a 7 hour flight delay. I’d take the whole of the TSA up my butthole before I’d sit on a parked plane for 7 hours.

  23. This is ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLY INCREDIBLE. I love that this guy recorded it. I will always bring a camcorder on a plane from now on.

  24. nequam says:

    A few people have used this post to say that they don’t like the new format. I like the new format very much. I also consider it an improvement.

    Oh, and being stuck on an airplane for so many hours is right up there with being buried alive on my nightmare list.

  25. @CRSpartan01: Your post says boo but your avatar says yay ….? ;)

  26. taylorich says:

    I don’t know how I would react to something like this. I have been on the tarmac for 3 hours before, but because the airport was shut down, not due to incompetence. I handled it, but all this would have beem too much. Is there nothing you can do to get off the plane? I would rather give up my seat.

    On the redesign, it really doesn’t work. The typeface is too small, and the stories are too compact. Give us some room to breathe people! White space is not a sin!

    Could be my claustrophobia kicking in yet again…

  27. GrantGannon says:

    I’m right there with you Heather. If I ever get stuck on a plane and the wait reaches four hours I think a legit case can be made for popping the emergency hatch. Maybe at the back of the plane when no one is looking.

    Everyone look! A big inflatable slide.


  28. Landru says:

    “The ubiquity, ease, and low cost of consumer recording, editing and sharing software is quickly making it less feasible for big companies to get away with stuff like this.”

    Not really. It depends on what you think “get away with it” means. They still do it.
    There doesn’t seem to be any let up. I won’t fly, unless I have to, but my tax dollars still subsidize the bastards.

  29. joelion says:

    I think everybody here needs to keep in mind that this is generally not “the crews” fault, as the video implied a couple times. The people flying the plan and the attendants certainly don’t want to be sitting in the stupid plane any longer than the passengers do. This has more to do with the overall business practices of the airlines and the complete inefficiency of air traffic control and airport logistics.

  30. Brian Gee says:

    weird. new layout is borked on my linux firefox… post box is way at the top (took me a while to find it), but the submit button is at the bottom. Oh well. I guess Ben likes it, since no one else seems to.

    I was wondering the same thing about the exit rows. I’d say 7 hours being held hostage on a plane constitutes an emergency. Pop! Surely it costs the airline some non-trivial amount to handle an emergency door incident. Maybe a few of those would convince them to stop fooking over their customers like this.

  31. leejames says:

    I now present a 1-act play that I call “Delta Crisis Response Squad”

    [Scene: Delta CEO’s office]

    DELTA CEO: “I feel like going for a plane ride today.” [Picks up phone.] “Yes, I’d like 2 tickets… one for me and one for that suspicious-looking guy that works in IT… yeah, yeah, the one with the beard and the crazy eyes. … tell him it’s a business lunch.”

    [Scene: Airplane interior. Delta CEO and Suspicious IT Employee are sitting next to one another in coach]

    CEO: “Thanks for joining me on this not-at-all-strange midair business lunch.”

    SITE: “Oh, no problem. It’s nice to get out sometimes. And with the CEO, no less!”

    CEO: “Of course. Would you mind taking a picture of me?”

    SITE: “Sure thing, boss!”

    [CEO hands camera to employee]

    CEO: “HELP! This suspicious-looking man with a beard and crazy eyes is trying to learn the secrets of air travel! Homeland Security! Batman! George W. Bush! Any properly diligent citizen! Stop him!”

    [A puff of smoke appears. Dick Cheney emerges from the blackness]

    CHENEY: “We have underestimated terror. Clearly it wishes to expose the foibles of modern air travel through the black magic of ‘film’ and ‘moving pictures.’ I banish thee to Gitmo, Guillermo del Terror!”

    [Lightning flies from his fingers and strikes Employee, who disappears.]

    CHENEY: “Furthermore I ban all cameras, camcorders, and camera phones from planes! Or else terror will win!”

    CEO: “Hooray!”

    CHENEY: “May I have some of those peanuts?”

    CEO: “No, they weren’t budgeted for this flight.”

    CHENEY: “Awww…”

  32. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    I believe that ‘terror’ has already won.

  33. superlayne says:

    Had the wait pushed 2 hours I would have been raising hell. Not the normal kind of hell, but the pissed, slightly overweight, hungry, teenaged, my-portable-gaming-systems-are-out-of-juice hell.

    The emergency door sounds like a great plan.

  34. EtherealStrife says:

    Well I can’t really badmouth Delta. After Hurricane Dennis I was stuck in Montego Bay (Sangster International Airport) for days doing standby trying to get back to more civilized territories. This was because Air Jamaica canceled almost a dozen booked flights, without providing any means for the screwed passengers to get off the island, and not paying a dime for hotel/food. Delta on the other hand flew in several empty planes just to get its own people out of there within a reasonable period. And in the meantime, they were offering Delta passengers standby on Delta and AIR JAMAICA flights. So yea. Be thankful you didn’t have bats, crabs, ants the size of cockroaches, and the most racist ethnic group in the New World (all non-Jamaicans are treated like crap, including blacks) to deal with while stuck at the airport. Oh yes, and baby shit. One woman was so pissed at the horrible CS she removed her baby’s diaper and smeared the baby’s feces-coated posterior all over the Air Jamaica counter.

    On an unrelated note: please revert the layout :)

  35. consumer_999 says:

    I don’t fly, so I’m ignorant about this, but: why don’t people just leave? If the plane is sealed, then start to make a huge disturbance (not so big you’re arrested…), and off you go. Feign a heart attack or botulism or searing gas pain if you have to. Then demand your money back for shit service/unfulfilled contract. If they claim ‘no money back, this type of thing is covered in the clause’, then well, I assume everyone on this site knows what to do next, right?

    Stand the hell up for yourselves. The ones crying weren’t the only babies on that plane. :P

  36. MandM813 says:

    I kind of agree, Consumer 999, but nowadays, its scary to do anything that would even be considered “threatening”, especially in an airport. For christ’s sake, they detain you for spilling water on the floor, imagine what they would do if you actually caused a scene? They’d probably shoot you and say they had reasonable cause to think you are a terrorist!

  37. LeJerque says:

    @CRSpartan01: You forgot the end part.

    Boo to the new format.


  38. RebekahSue says:

    I just emailed Delta and requested a written response to the video, and asked what they’ll be doing for these poor passengers and as incentive to get people like me to NOT look for another airline.

    Re the new layout: I’d like to see dates on the articles/posts. I can’t cite them without dates (and I don’t know if my RSS is a “valid source”).

  39. Ola says:

    7 hours on the tarmac. How nice. How pleasant. The video, that is.

    Count me in for not liking the new format much either.

  40. blitzcat says:

    I would have gotten arrested. I would have gotten the fuck off the plane though.

  41. ingridc says:

    Is it terrible that this video made me laugh out loud? Well, until the part about no food, and did I hear something about a passenger having seizures? Was that on another plane? I’m confused. Anyway, I actually feel pretty bad for the crew, as they seemed to be doing the best they could to handle things with the ridiculous restrictions imposed upon them by Delta corporate rules. By the end of the video, the flight attendant sounded pretty irked that he wasn’t able to do more to help feed everyone. Or get back to the terminal. Or leave the ground. What a nightmare! I hope we hear some resolution… Hopefully it’ll be a nice distraction from how much I dislike the new site design *nudge nudge*.

  42. bringafajita says:

    This new layout is a definite no go for me.

    r.e. delta situation: This is exactly why I fly JetBlue. At least then we would have gotten a frantic CEO video out of it.

  43. eli_b says:

    The video was great! That guys expression is priceless at the beginning, he should have given the ‘after’ shot though.

  44. Trackback says:

    Right now, my parents have been stuck on the runway in NYC for hours.I was stuck on the runway trying to get to London for hours two weeks ago.Watch this video below for an idea of how bad it can really get.

  45. Perspex says:

    The layout sucks. Almost as much as waiting 7 hours on the tarmac.

  46. bohemian says:

    I would have fomented a riot among the passengers.

    Popping the emergency doors sounds like a good plan also. What really got me was that they were sitting in this plane for hours with no AC in the summer. That has to be horrible.

    I think getting in trouble with the law for causing a scene on a plane would have been worth it to get off the darn thing.

    This is exactly why I do not fly. I will drive or take the train.

    Does anyone know if Canada’s air system is any better as far as the crazy searches, long waits and stranding people in planes? We have talked about flying to Europe for a vacation. It would be worth it to me to drive to Canada to avoid the insanity that has become flying in the US.

  47. s35flyer says:

    I like it, the site removes things it doesnt agree with. cool

  48. etops777 says:

    Okay folks, I work as a pilot in the airline industry let me shed some light on this for you.

    1.) That flight was not on Delta mainline. It was on a Shuttle America flight. Shuttle America is a regional airline that is contracted by Delta to provide “feed” to Delta mainline. They are what is referred to as a low cost provider, they charge Delta mainline the least amount for providing that flight. If you have a beef take it up with Shuttle America, owned by Republic at

    2.) The thing to understand is that the pilots and crew members that Republic hires are mostly new to the buisness. These regional airlines are like double AA baseball teams. This is where people go to get the experience and the time to move up and hopefully get a job at a major or legacy carrier. They work for very little, for example a pilot at Republic can make as little as 24K his first year. Yes you heard me right as little as 24K his first year. So with that type of compensation you are not getting the cream of the crop!!!

    3.) The aircraft in question is an EMB 170/175 jet. It is a 70 seat regional jet. It is realitivly new and so it will have mainatance issues pop up every once in a while.

    4.) Crew duty days are limited to 16 hours so the crew was telling the truth that they would time out if they tried to continue.

    5.) Crew scheduling in most likelyhood told the captain that the relief crew was in JFK. The schedulers have a tendency to not always tell the truth. Remeber they are getting paid even less than new pilots. You get what you pay for.

    6.) These people could have gotten off at anytime. The door would have to open to allow in new crew members, to allow maintance personal to work on the aircraft and fill out the proper paperwork. All they would have to do is ask. This plane did not leave the gate, you ask they will let you off.

    7.) If you are away from the gate and want to go back, just feign an illness, do not disrupt the crew or try to open any door, that will get you arrested. Just tell them you are sick and need to go back, they will.

    8.) If for some reason they will not just hop on your cell phone, dial 411 ask for the number for the local airport authority and call them and explain you are sick on this flight number and they will not let you off. That should take care of it.

  49. @dbeahn: I LOVE that ad!

    At Delta, we loves us some flyin’ and it be showin’ like a motherf——-.

    @Delta Airlines: FAIL
    Utter and complete failure. You can’t get a plane off the ground in 7 hours? You can’t let people off the plane? You can’t even give your employees accurate information to give to the passengers? Fail, fail, fail.

    @joelion: That guy sounded pissed they couldn’t at least get some food. The crew had to be hungry too by then.

  50. samftla says:

    I did send Delta an email asking for a response to this video and their response is as follows:

    Dear Mr. XXXXX,

    Thank you for your e-mail to Delta Air Lines.

    Delta and several regional airlines are partners in the Delta
    Connection. While each airline retains its own identity, the ticketing
    codes and flight numbers are merged into our system. We work closely
    with each of these airlines to achieve maximum schedule coordination and
    comparable service standards.

    Your comments on the flight operated by Shuttle America, the Delta
    Connection Carrier, will be forwarded to their attention.

    We appreciate your interest in Delta Air Lines.


    Barbara Allen
    Medallion Desk

    Can you say Pass the Buck?

  51. ingridc says:

    @etops777: “6.) These people could have gotten off at anytime. The door would have to open to allow in new crew members, to allow maintance personal to work on the aircraft and fill out the proper paperwork. All they would have to do is ask. This plane did not leave the gate, you ask they will let you off.”

    -Unless I heard something wrong, I think they were actually NOT at the gate and merely sitting on the tarmac, and plus they couldn’t get to a gate because other planes had “priority”. Surely in a span of 7 hours at least one person (and I suspect many) had asked to get off the plane and go back to the terminal. They didn’t get dinner! Speaking just for myself, if I had no way of getting dinner I would have said something very early on. Me and food deprivation are not a pretty sight! ;)

  52. ingridc says:

    p.s. @etops777: other than #6, I appreciate the insider’s perspective!

  53. ThinkAboutItPlease says:

    A big scoop, somehow connected to Geek Squad, promised “next week,” and it’s been, what, two weeks now. If you can’t deliver, don’t promise. Ben, love your work otherwise, but promise-breaking is pure bullshit. It dilutes the impact of your work. You decry scamming and promise-breaking and dishonesty, and then do it yourself. Lesson to learn: Rarely make any promises of any kind, because plans can always be ruined by unforeseen circumstances.

    About the Delta thing: If Delta licenses their brand, Delta is accountable for the quality of the licensee.

  54. nardo218 says:

    The whiny ineffectual captain would have pissed me off so much. All he talked about was how he couldn’t do anything to help and his hands were tied and crycrycry. Fucking grow a pair.

  55. samftla says:

    Just wondering when can a plane passenger sue based on “false imprisonment?” As I recall with Northwest Airlines fiasco several years back passengers in a similar situation did sue the airline for false imprisonment and NW settled out of court before it went to trial for fear of setting a precedent if they lost. Might be worth a shot for these poor passengers.

  56. Xerloq says:

    This is crazy! I landed in San Diego on a Delta flight and we were told it would take 3 hours to get to the gate because of backlog. My wife started to have a migraine, we told the flight attendants… lo and behold, “Medical Emergency!” They got us to the gate in 5 minutes, my wife and I got off first (to meet the paramedics), and we were the heroes of everyone on the flight.

  57. synergy says:

    @MandM813: That’s another reason why little by little things have gotten to where they are today. A good time to put a halt to things were when they were heading to where they are now, but there wasn’t this shoot first ask questions later mentality.

  58. synergy says:

    @bohemian: I’ve flown in and out of Toronto and people don’t look nearly as tired or harassed. The most time is spent because it’s an international flight and they have to comply with things the U.S. wants them to go through before they let people on the plane bound for the U.S. Otherwise, I don’t get the feeling you have to go through so much crap. That’s just my impression, though.

  59. Fist-o™ says:

    When it comes to flying, I always find myself in the position of comparing myself with 100 years ago. “Well, at least we aren’t crawling along in wagons!” Suck it up, you whiners.

    on the other hand, this is 2007, and airlines have been flying people for nearly 50 years. they oughta be able to get their shit straight.

  60. obbie says:

    i wonder if anyone contemplated just saying they had a bomb in their luggage just so they could get off of the plane and get something to eat.

  61. V-effekt says:


    Sorry, had to say it. They all suck, but… this was bad, really bad.

  62. Ausoleil says:

    I put plenty of blame on airlines generally, because time and time again they’ve been proven to lie to their customers, hold them in disregard, not deliver their product in a timely manner, etc. — the things that drive other businesses out of business entirely.

    One thing that bears mentionaing is that airlines largely created this gridlock by offering more flights with smaller planes and thus putting more pieces on the finite squares of the chessboard.

    On the other hand, there needs to be more capacity, but even adding a runway at O’Hare has become a major battleground of NIMBYs versus commerce. One can only imagaine the the hullabaloo if Atlanta decided to build a new airport to supplement/replace Hartsfield.

    Further, the air traffic control system needs to be upgraded to handle the capacity. Taxpayers and or airline passengers are going to have to pay for this system one way or the other, but neither group seems very interested in doing that at the present time.

  63. Anonymous says:

    07/19/2009 – Delta flight 1834 took off leaving 15 customers behind knowingly that they are late because of an airport error. One lady was so close to the gate that they shut the door on her while the plan is still connected to the walkway. My wife and my toddler is now stuck at Atlanta and possibility overnight. It is sad that employees at Delta is so unfriendly to a mother and child traveling. The airport error was noted 40 minutes before take off of the connecting flight but Delta decided to take off early on that very flight. I wish there is someone I can speak to but as any of us frequent travelers who understand that this is the facts of life. Maybe a tweet or two by some popular accounts might do the trick?