Bus Filled With Diverted Delta Passengers Crashes, Driver Killed, Dozens Injured

A bus filled with diverted Delta passengers has crashed in Pennsylvania, killing the driver and injuring dozens of passengers, according to the AP.
After being unable to find hotel rooms for the stranded passengers in Syracuse, NY, Delta airlines chartered 4 buses to shuttle the passengers to their destination of Newark International Airport. One of the buses crashed on I-81 in New Milford, PA. 12 passengers were taken to local hospitals. The cause of the crash in unknown. From the AP:

The bus was trying to exit the southbound lanes of I-81 in northeastern Pennsylvania when it crashed through several barriers, crossed the ramp and landed with part of the vehicle hanging off the roadway, according to state police.

The passengers had been among about 170 people on a flight from Salt Lake City to Newark, N.J., that was diverted to Syracuse, N.Y., because of bad weather Thursday night, said Brian Drake, a spokesman for Delta Air Lines Inc. in Syracuse.

After the plane landed, mechanics discovered a hydraulic leak that could not immediately be fixed, Drake said. The airline was unable to find hotel rooms for the passengers, so it called in seven tour buses, which left for Newark around 2:30 a.m.

Consumerist Reader Eric wrote us earlier after picking up his girlfriend’s cousin from the Syracuse airport. You can read his story here.

Bus With Diverted Air Passengers Crashes [Forbes]

PREVIOUSLY: Delta Can’t Land In Newark, Abandons Passengers
(Photo: Maulleigh)


Edit Your Comment

  1. joeblevins says:

    Damn…. We love to fly and it shows.

  2. castlecraver says:

    Eerie coincidence about the earlier post from the reader who made other arrangements…

    I guess this is a hell of an example of how flying is safer than driving for your friends who’re scared of air travel.

  3. vr4z06gt says:

    wow, i think it was just someones time….

  4. protest says:

    um…forget what i said on that related story, damn.

    sidenote: $50 the crash happened in a PennDOT construction zone.

  5. madktdisease says:

    holy shit.

  6. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Wow that is dreadful. But um, nobody could find hotel rooms for these people? Syracuse isn’t some big tourist attraction city. I’d be hard pressed to find any hotel in that city (outside of graduation weekend) that is actually filled to capacity.

  7. Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

    Bad enough to strand them. When you start injuring them, wow.

  8. AskCars says:

    I think after being dropped off in syracuse I would’ve rented a car, no?

  9. AtomikB says:

    More like, “The airline declined to pay for hotel rooms for the passengers, so it called in seven tour buses, because it was cheaper.”

  10. cde says:

    Final Destination 4: The Delta Conspiracy

  11. nidolke says:

    Oy vey.

  12. hellinmyeyes says:

    Holy shit, this is the saddest pair of stories I think I’ve seen on Consumerist. They get screwed by landing far away, then can’t stay overnight, then twelve of them end up in the hospital… I can’t even imagine what those people are going through and thinking trying to rationalize what’s going on.

    *[phone conversation] Oh, yeah, our trip went well, we had a little diversion, umm…*

  13. discounteggroll says:




    what a fucking cruel irony…my condolences go out the friends and family members of those involved. This is going to give Delta some really bad PR, but forget that for now. Instead my attention goes to those injured and lost because of some ridiculous business practices

  14. plim says:

    1. Buy ticket for a flight that will get routed to another airport.
    2. Get injured on alternative transportation to your original destination.
    3. Profit?!?!?!?!

    unless you’re the driver. me smell lots of lawsuits for this one…

  15. tvh2k says:

    1. — thats completely crazy that this story WAS JUST ON CONSUMERIST
    2. — coming back from Rochester to NYC I’ve made this drive hundreds of times (including last weekend!) I-81 is coming down a hill into 380/84/81 split and the speed limit drops to 45 (w/construction) but no one follows it. I could totally see a bus wiping out there. Sad.

  16. tedyc03 says:

    Finally anecdotal proof that flying is safer than driving. I guess unless you’re flying Delta, in which case you’ll be driving and running the same risks…

    I just can’t wait for the lawsuits. What affirmative defense will the Delta lawyers proffer up? The passengers were distracting the driver? I just want to beat somebody right now…

  17. tvh2k says:

    Wait — I take that back. They’re further north, near that huge gas station/mc donalds/fireworks place on the west side of 81 with the LED flashing the unleaded regular price.

  18. joeblevins says:

    Maybe they are sending a message, don’t complain about being stuck in NY. or else…

  19. foghat81 says:

    Wow. Very weird given the earlier post. Just wow.

  20. pdxguy says:

    one word for all involved…. lawsuit.

  21. kris in seattle says:


    All these posts about how shitty all these airlines are is NOT making me feel good at all about my up coming flight in November to San Diego.

    Did I mention that I’ve never flown before? Yeah.

  22. The Count of Monte Fisto says:

    It’s Delta’s fault that the bus crashed? I was under the impression they were an airline.

  23. acambras says:

    I hate Delta as much as anyone else, but come on — it’s not their fault that the bus crashed. It’s an unfortunate coincidence.

    I feel very sorry for the people that were in that bus accident, but I can’t make the leap to, “Delta decided to charter the bus instead of getting hotel rooms, so it’s their fault!”

    If Delta had gotten the passengers hotel rooms and there had been a deadly hotel fire, people would probably be blaming them for that, too. :-(

  24. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    I wonder what sort of insurance an airline holds for situations like this. I’m forecasting Delta filing a lawsuit today against the bus company before any of its passengers jump on the lawsuit bandwagon.

  25. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    @tvh2k: The Flying J Station! I was just there last weekend – very treacherous driving, even in the best conditions…and 81 has got a bleep-load of construction on it in that part of PA…

  26. K-Bo says:

    @AtomikB: “More like, “The airline declined to pay for hotel rooms for the passengers, so it called in seven tour buses, because it was cheaper.”

    Or maybe more like the passengers didn’t want to waste a weekend in a city they never wanted to be in to begin with, and prefered taking a bus to a hotel room.

  27. royal72 says:

    airlines suck.
    busses crash.

    wtf?! they have absolutely nothing to do with each other, except sensationalism.

  28. ceejceej says:

    @David Thomas: Not if you are traveling on a very tight budget.

  29. FLConsumer says:

    I almost feel for Delta on this one… They actually TRIED to get the passengers to their destination and still got screwed.

  30. Trai_Dep says:

    Whoa. Delta will do anything to avoid having to pay stranded passengers’ hotel fees! :P

  31. ord2fra says:

    @ TRAI_DEP: Delta doesn’t fly from Syracuse to Newark. Only Continental does, and even then it’s a little 50-seat regional jet, whereas the original Delta flight was a 757 with 186 seats. So, getting buses was the best option.

    Why the airlines haven’t publically DEMANDED that the FAA fix its horrible traffic management is beyond me. You can see that every major carrier is impacted by this. Obviously this is not something that one or two airlines need to fix, pointing to a much larger problem, that of infrastructure.

    The airlines have invested in new aircraft, and most importantly kept prices low (versus inflation). Finally their safety is unparalleled. Look how seldom an airliner crashes anymore. It’s once every 2 years now, with the last one being Comair 5191 in Lexington.

    It’s time for passengers and airlines to DEMAND that the inefficiencies of the ATC system get fixed. Controllers do a great job, nothing against them. But the management and infrastructure is horrible and should change.

  32. econobiker says:

    ORD2FRA AT 06:48 PM,
    I am with you on the FAA management. Any pilot knows that there are slack times at airports and busy times. Why not fill the slack times versus jamming the busy times?

  33. Roundonbothends says:

    This is dreadful. I like Delta and American, and I think that people in both airlines try hard to do right for the customers in today’s difficult economy for the entire business. This was pure, random chance. This is no moral to this story, although there may be a lesson. The lesson, I imagine, will be somewhere up I-80 in PA.

  34. PandemicSoul says:

    These poor people just can’t get a break.

  35. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    How ironic is it that you’d survive the actual Delta flight and then die in a bus crash that you only took because the plane couldn’t take off?

    Awful :(

  36. Ola says:

    Irony. Unfortunately, tragic irony. :( I don’t see how anything was Delta’s fault – if they had left everyone at the airport, stranded, they’d have been chewed out by us right here. Stuff happens.

  37. raybury says:

    Condolences to the driver’s family, and my thoughts for the injured.

    Apart from all other considerations, could it not have been dangerous to have a bus rolling at this late hour? I expect will find that several of the drivers were not operating on nearly enough sleep, that they probably usually get up quite early, e.g. up at 4 a.m., to bed at 9 or 10 p.m., get called at 12:30 a.m. for an unexpected run.

  38. jwarner132 says:


    “This is going to give Delta some really bad PR”

    It’s not even on MSN.com or CNN.com yet. I say “yet”, but I doubt it will ever be. A car crash where one person dies isn’t enough to make the news usually.

  39. DigitalMariner says:

    How about the fact that the original email said the buses were leaving at 1am, and it seems they left at 2:30am. Delta is so used to delaying everything, they can’t even get a damn bus to leave on time.

    I still can’t figure out why they would go to Syracuse instead of say, ABE international (2-3 hrs drive from NYC metro during the day) where Delta at least has service and a ton of hotel options.

    I hope a tragedy like this would finally get people to wake up and force changes on these incompetent airlines, but sadly I fear this will be forgotten in a matter of weeks

  40. LionelEHutz says:

    Wow, the smell of lawsuits in the morning. And Delta probably won’t be able to use airline travel laws to shield their sorry asses either.

  41. jmugrapler says:

    This is entirely Delta’s fault. The pasengers paid to be flown to Newark. Study after study has shown that flying is safer than driving. Delta substituted a mode of transportation that was riskier and people were injured. all modes of transportation are not equal. If buses were not available what was next, hot air balloon?

  42. synergy says:

    Dang. Those poor people just couldn’t catch a break. Maybe it was a sign that they REALLY didn’t need to go to Newark. O.O

  43. endersshadow says:

    Dear Heavens! I just got back from New Jersey (I’m Eric that sent in the first post), and I saw this and was blown away. Thank G-d that we were able to pick her up! I’m not sure I’ve ever had an eerier feeling than the one I have right now.

  44. Rocketski22 says:


    This is not true. I was a passenger on the plane and the Delta Rep. at Syracuse airport said that they were not authorized to give us hotel vouchers. Only a supervisor could allow it. I asked the Delta Rep. to call a Supervisor and she said she would not. Also the diversion of the plane to Syracuse because of the bad weather is a half-truth. The pilot announced that he did not have enough fuel to “circle” Newark waiting for the weather to life and he had to go to Syracuse to refuel.

  45. rbgraber says:

    I was on this Delta flight & just today heard about the fate of one of these buses. I can clarify a few points – in some cases, the situation was worse than portrayed above.

    – The Delta flight/plane originated from somewhere in California and was 2 hours late getting into Salt Lake City. It was late into Salt Lake because it had similar mechanical problems before it took off out of CA.

    – When the plane arrived in Salt Lake, it was delayed another hour because they had to re-ticket the ENTIRE FLIGHT. Apparently the seat configuration was different than what Delta expected.

    – When we landed in Syracuse, they did let us off the plane to walk around a functionally closed airport. I asked for my baggage, planning to rent a car and drive 4 hours home. I was told that they would not be unloading the cargo. If I wanted to leave, I’d have to do so without my bags and they would not deliver them to me.

    – When it was finally announced that the plane would not be taking off, the flight crew also announced that there were NO MORE RENTAL CARS at Syracuse airport and that hotels were all booked. We could take buses home or stay the weekend. Delta would not be flying us out of Syracuse and we wouldn’t be put on another flight for days.

    – The buses were supposed to arrive at MIDNIGHT, not 1AM. No announcements were made between 10:30 and Midnight updating us on status. It’s possible that the buses were “rescheduled” after they were over 1/2 hour late.

    – At about 11PM-ish, it was clear that rental cars were available and passangers started to rent them. I personally rented one at midnight and drove home.

    – In case anyone is wondering about cost of a rental car, total cost from AVIS for a next day return in Rockland County NY was $239.

    Generally when I pay for airline tickets, I expect to be flown to my destination. To add insult, Delta staff was unapologetic. It’s clear to me know that I was lucky to have driven…