Airline Passengers Stranded For 9 Hours

200 passengers were held captive for 9 hours on the tarmac outside LA this week. TACA Airlines blamed fuel delays, lack of staff, and fog. As they waited, they were fed water and crackers. [FOX] (Thanks to Justin!) (Photo: Getty)


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  1. the0 says:

    I feel that a situation like this is extra frustrating. If anyone on the plane demands off, or makes too much noise, or says that they want to talk to someone, they could be up on Federal charges. I wish there was some kind of accountability for the airlines, nothing new I guess.

  2. brakemans says:

    I was at LAX on a NWA flight to MSP on Monday. Yes, it was foggy, but we got out of there on time. It must’ve been more with the fuel delays and lack of staff. And besides, isn’t bad weather the whole reason for control towers?

    • ChChChacos says:

      @brakemans: As a pilot myself I know from experience that control towers can’t always help. If the visibility is that low and everyones filing instrument flight plans at once it can get pretty harry. No idea why they would wait 9 hours though, that seems a little ridiculous.

    • bagumpity says:

      @brakemans: According to TFA, there were more worries than just weather. It was an accumulation of a lot of circumstances, many of which were rooted in human stupidity and lack of the most basic compassion.

    • valthun says:

      @brakemans: I ride a bicycle under the flight path of LAX to work, and the fog was so thick on Monday that I could only hear the planes take off. Most fog in LA isn’t that thick and you can usually see the lights through the fog, or the belly.

  3. tekkierich says:

    “break glass in case of emergency”

    • NigelEurotas says:

      @the0: @tekkierich: Exactly, I don’t care about federal law. After 5+ hours I would demand repeatidly to be let off the plane. If they refused I would pull the hatch hop down the slide and stand there until I was arrested.

      I would make bond a couple of days later and then cause a massive stink. Sue the airlines, personally sue the flight attendants, sue the airport, sue the FAA. Start a petition website, personally call every single congressman every week and scream “WHARGARBBLLL” into the phone.

      This type of stuff is simply not right, people need to start taking matters into their own hands. F@*k the airlines.

  4. LiC says:

    Not fog, it was Justin’s fault.

  5. Trai_Dep says:

    On the bright side, no one was surcharged while imprisoned in this Kafkaesque nightmare of epic proportions.
    And, very little cannibalism!

    • the0 says:

      @Trai_Dep: It makes me upset to think that if anyone had demanded off the plane or had made any real fuss on the plane, they would be up on Federal charges. 9 hours should have been a riot.

    • howie_in_az says:

      @Trai_Dep: I’m shocked that the airline didn’t bill the customers for the water and crackers consumed during those 9 hours.

  6. sonneillon says:

    At least the bathrooms worked. I might have just walked off and let myself get arrested. Spending a night in jail might be better than a night on the airplane.

    • rockasocky says:

      @sonneillon: But it was an international flight and they had to go through customs. I think that means you wouldn’t spend a night in resort white collar jail, but federal pound-you-in-the-@$$ jail.

      Actually I have no idea if that’s even remotely true, I just saw a chance for an Office Space quote.

    • goodywitch says:

      @sonneillon: I saw this last night. The bathrooms weren’t working. And one lady couldn’t get to her heart medication (although always keep medication as a carryon, no matter what)

  7. midwestkel says:

    If they had Wi-Fi I would’ve been good.

  8. Synth3t1c says:

    i was stranded on a flight from Newark to Memphis for 1-2 Hrs and they gave us cereal (no milk), a banana, a cookie, and a drink. Go Continental :)

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

    The US government should just suspected terrorists in planes for 12 hours at a time with no food or AC. They wouldn’t even need would be built in!

  10. Canino says:

    Every time I’ve been stranded on a long delay, I’ve found that everyone lies about the reason. The airport lies and says the airline has to make requests when really the airport just doesn’t want to call the necessary people in or pay overtime. The airline lies and says it’s the airport’s fault while making no effort to service the aircraft with food/water/toilet/air conditioning services, instead sending gate agents and service staff home so they don’t have to pay overtime either.

    Unfortunately there’s no way for the passengers to know who to really blame, and in the end nothing is ever done about it.

  11. TSS says:

    They weren’t at LAX, they were out in Ontario – which I’m pretty sure is not an international airport. It was too foggy for them to land at LAX.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @TSS: That’s sad. I always got exceptional service at Ontario airport :(

    • quizmasterchris says:

      @TSS: Isn’t TACA a Central American carrier, and given that US airports bar overseas carriers from domestic flights, wouldn’t this be an international flight? Please someone correct me if I’m wrong on either count…

      • Anonymous says:

        It was an international flight that couldn’t land at LAX because of fog, so it was a catch22 situation: they couldn’t deplane because there were no customs/immigration people (my guess) and they couldn’t go to LAX (fog)…
        I’ve had good experiences with TACA, but sometimes luck is against you…

  12. SJRNWT says:

    Held captive?

    Simmer down Fox…

    • jtheletter says:


      Hello, we’ve been on this grounded plane for 7 hours now and since I’ve missed my connecting flight and meeting now I’d like to give up and go home. Please let me off the plane. What’s that? My choices are to sit here until you say I can leave, or else be arrested? Well then, I guess I’m not being held captive at all! [/sarcasm]

  13. CumaeanSibyl says:

    I’m surprised that, of all the people who’ve been held on grounded airplanes for hours on end, we don’t hear more about people losing their minds. If you have claustrophobia and you’re still on the plane when the Xanax wears off, well, things aren’t going to go well.

    • tbax929 says:


      That’s certainly true for me. You wouldn’t want to be around me when the Valium wears off.

      • MameDennis says:

        Yeah, I’m the same way. I can *just* about pull myself together to fly, but trap me in anything that I can’t get out of that isn’t moving… badness ensues.

    • Etoiles says:

      @CumaeanSibyl: After more than 2 hours stuck in an unmoving airplane, I get pretty punchy. This is part of why I fly JetBlue whenever possible: the TV goes a long way toward steadying me. Something about it being a live connection to the normal world keeps me sane when I’m trapped on the ground (which, for most of the times it has happened, has been JFK’s fault rather than the airline’s) and helps give me something to focus on when I’m five miles above the surface of the earth trying not to think about just how far that is to fall in a horrible fiery terrifying death.

      (I’m maddeningly afraid of heights. I learned to handle the short flight from IAD to JFK when I was doing it twice a month but I’m flying to Puerto Rico tomorrow afternoon and there are just not enough drugs in the world…)

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @CumaeanSibyl: I considered your statement and then thought “well wouldn’t that be an awesome way to get off the plane!” but then I realized they’d just cuff you and gag you and let you rant. Then throw you in lockdown as a terrorist.

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      @CumaeanSibyl: This is why you never put prescription meds in checked luggage, it should be in your carry-on. Never check anything that would by its unavailability would impact your health. (I also carry a change of underwear and socks in my carry-on bag. Put them in a Ziploc bag and squeeze all the air out.)

  14. HungryTuna says:

    To all of you who are saying that you rather get arrested.. You obviously have never been stuck on a plane.

    They are never upfront about how long the delay is going to take (You don’t know if you will be leaving in the next 15 minutes or if its a 4 hour delay). You normally get a vague update from the pilot every 15-30 minutes.

    I once was stuck on an American Airlines flight for 7 hours while ground crew worked to fix a flat tire.. (How in the world does it take 7 hours to fix a flat). I recall only being served water and being extremely agitated that every announcement that was made promised that we would be getting on our way soon..

    (First it was equipment problems, next they wanted to take us back to the terminal, another plane was in the terminal so they were waiting for ground crew, ground crew will be changing flat time, ground crew is still working on flat tire, Waiting for de-icing, waiting to taxi, radio tower changed the runway..)

    On the flip side, I always have a pleasant experience on the Long Island Rail Road. When delayed, crew makes regular announcements, walks up and down the train appologizing and gives proper estimates as to how long the delay may take. It also feels that they make a real effort to either let you off the train or to find an alternate method to get you home.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @HungryTuna: Oh yes. I was stuck in Shanghai on a United flight for 4 hours for similar reasons. While the bathrooms worked, no drinks or food were offered and I was only glad that I had internet on my phone (and that airport security didn’t catch my water bottle or those of a few of my seatmates- Chinese people, me included, tend to have a low tolerance for bad conditions in enclosed spaces).

    • Pylon83 says:

      Speaking as a pilot, have you ever considered that the flight crew and the airline don’t know how long it’s going to be? They are usually working with an intricate web of different companies who service the airports, as well as ATC. Getting it all orchestrated isn’t easy and isn’t always timely. It’s air travel. Delays happen. Get over it.

      • eXo says:

        @Pylon83: Speaking as a passenger, I expect the damn pilot to know the situation and what is going on. Its attitudes like yours that lead to the apathy that lets delays like this occur in the first place.

      • smythe says:

        @Pylon83: That’s the most BS statement I’ve ever hear.. “delays happen. get over it.”
        I’m sorry but the expectation when I purchase my flight is that I will leave and arrive on time, any deviation from that I expect to be promptly notified and a good estimate of how long it will take and the reason.
        You cannot expect us to believe that it is impossible to do that, I do however believe that the airline are incapable of doing that. Which is not an excuse!

      • jamar0303 says:

        @Pylon83: Ummm… no, just no. And people wonder why US airlines don’t stack up to their foreign counterparts. Example- Japan, the country where punctuality is highly valued. Result? Their air network runs like clockwork. China- bad service makes unhappy customers riot. Multiple times. Is that going to happen again? Of course not! But when I fly United? A 4-hour delay and everyone seems to act like it’s normal.

      • amuro98 says:


        As someone who got stuck on the ground for 2 hours for a flight that was only 45 minutes, I find your attitude unacceptable.

        Yes, s*it happens, but how the professionals handle the situation makes a big difference. If you were my pilot, and the best you could tell me was “I dunno…they won’t tell me…” you’re failing at your job.

        You bet your wings you should know what’s going on – it’s your plane isn’t it? If you don’t get the answers, be upfront with the passengers and then, privately, yell at the tower or whoever until someone gives some real information beyond “I dunno…just keep sitting there awhile.” And for crying out loud, if it looks like it’s going to be more than an hour, get the plane back to the terminal and let the people off. Being stuck in limbo inside the terminal is going to be a much better situation than having them crammed into a small metal tube with very limited food, water and toilet supplies.

        It’s only a matter of time before one of these flights sitting on the ground for hours on end is going to erupt in a violent riot. Maybe then the airline industry will actually “take the problem seriously.” Although, somehow I doubt we’ll like the airlines’ solution to the problem.

      • AtomicPlayboy says:

        @Pylon83: I can only hope that you are not an actual pilot, and that your apathy toward the plight of uncomfortable, inconvenienced, paying airline customers is just the view of one lone poser and not an example of professional disdain toward customers.

  15. CharlesjP says:

    Would it be at all possible to charge the airline with kidnapping? I think after 2 hours of nothing they are then holding me against my will.. Have a missed a conversation on this completely? :D

    • muchenik says:

      @CharlesjP: The problem is the way the ticket “contract” is created. They have full say on mode of transportation, length of travel and what cities you fly through just as long as you are able to reach your destination. If they fail to get you to your destination they are not required to but may refund your ticket.

      They only way they get away with this is the argument of free market and that you can choose another mode of transportation.

  16. varro says:

    Heckuva job, Chertoff!

    The sooner that assclown is out of his job at Homeland Security, the better. Can’t they just let those people at least into the departure lounge with security around them?

  17. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    I wonder if the airlines are liable for the health and well-being in a situation like this. I ask because I have type II diabetes, and my Mother has type I (insulin dependent.) Water and crackers wouldn’t cut it if my Mom was stuck on a plane for 9 hours and her blood sugar started to crash. I’d be willing to risk getting arrested if it meant being able to get medical assistance in this kind of situation. NOBODY plans to be on a plane for 9 hours, so even a carry-on has limits, and while I agree that everybody should put their medication in a carry-on, if you only had to take some medication before you go to bed, and you had expected to be at your destination 9 hours earlier, you might just pack it in your checked luggage.

  18. dumblonde says:

    I can’t believe that when I read they were fed water and crackers, the first thought in my mind was at least they were fed!

    • bagumpity says:

      @dumblonde: My first thought was “how much did they charge for the water & crackers?” Because you know, it helps to have exact change when you’re held hostage on the tarmac for seven hours!

  19. Anonymous says:

    What if you had a baby? I mean like a previous poster said, no one plans for nine hours on a plane. Is the baby just supposed to starve?? They’d scream like maniacs. This should be illegal to keep people on a plane like that. I agree, it’s kidnapping.

  20. bigvicproton says:

    all it takes is one person, one hero, to complain of chest pains, and i’m pretty sure the plane is going back to gate pronto…

  21. reuvenb says:

    This is typical for TACA. They stranded us overnight in the middle of nowhere, Honduras, because they delayed a flight whose destination airport closed at dusk, just so they could take care of a charter flight with the airplane. They then delayed the replacement flight for three hours.

  22. Pylon83 says:

    If one were to actually read the article, they would find that it seems the primary reason the passengers were kept on board was the lack of Customs Agents to process them. It’s not that the airline didn’t want to let them off the plane, they were prohibited from doing so because there was no Customs service to clear them all.

    • CFinWV says:

      @Pylon83: That makes it all better?

    • eXo says:

      @Pylon83: I seriously hope I never get stuck flying with you as the pilot. I seriously doubt you are this accpeting and patient when it comes to your attempts at commuting. You have never once had road rage, never once yelled at a cab – why? well, because you understand that ‘these things just happen’. Doubtful. Your simply defensive of this because it is a problem you have been a part of many times.

      • Pylon83 says:

        I’m not an airline pilot. That said, I suppose my point was that this isn’t a situation where the airline held the people on the plane for no reason. They were legally obligated to keep them on the plane until they could clear customs. There was no Customs service available. What were they supposed to do? There’s no reason to vilify the airline over this.

        • Anonymous says:

          @bigvicproton: @bigvicproton: @Pylon83: It mentions in several articles that the airline can get permission from the airport to deplane the passengers and hold them in a terminal rather than the airplane. The problem is that the airline didn’t ask and the airport didn’t offer. Additionally, the airport says that the airline said they would be taking off again, so they didn’t send customs agents back to the airport. So yes, there may have been a reason to hold these people on the plane, but it stopped being valid after about 2 hours since that’s how long it would have taken to get things straightened out if the airline/airport had been on their game

        • amuro98 says:


          So you would agree, then, that the pilot was just following the law, and therefore providing a superior customer experience?

          Something went seriously wrong here if it took an international airport NINE HOURS to rouse enough customs officers to deal with one plane. What, there weren’t any other international flights that day so they gave the whole department the day off?

          I’d be a lot more understanding if the plane made a landing due to an emergency at an airport that doesn’t handle international flights. But that’s not the case here.

          I’d also be a lot more sympathetic to the pilot if I believed he did everything in his power to get the people off the plane in a reasonable amount of time. However, nine hours is not reasonable. This was an international flight so the chances are they’d already been in the plane for at least 4 or 5 hours before they landed. Throw in the unexpected 9 hour delay, and you’re talking about enough time to fly from New York to New Delhi.

          Sure, the pilot followed the rules and did as he was told. Good on him. I’m sure those passengers are completely understanding about having to wait in a plane on the ground for 9 hours because the pilot was told to.

    • JustThatGuy3 says:


      According to the article, TACA never _asked_ Customs for permission to get the people off the plane.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @Pylon83: So maybe it would have been smarter to land at an airport a little farther off with Customs facilities, then?

    • Fist-o™ says:

      @Pylon83: Your attempt to defend the airline: FAIL.

    • trujunglist says:


      All it really takes is a large room with access to a bathroom. That’d be 100000000x better than sitting on a plane for 9 hours. I’d much rather have to sit on a concrete floor with minimal bathroom access than sit in an airplane seat for 9 hours. Custom officials? All it takes is 1 or 2 Ontario policemen to watch over the crowd and make sure no one tries to escape. The chances of there being anyone that even wants to escape is minimal! This is so ridiculous that I shouldn’t have to argue with you. You must be like 3’5″, because NO ONE ELSE can sit around in an airplane for that long and not start to lose their minds.

  23. Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

    Well, that’s infinitely safer than actually flying on TACA (seriously aka “The Almost Careful Airlines” due to extremely high accident rates)

  24. Saboth says:

    After a terrible flight ordeal coming back from my honeymoon, I told my new wife I hope she enjoyed the trip, because I won’t be flying for a few years.

  25. CRNewsom says:

    I read this story on another blog yesterday. It appears the airline blamed the airport (no customs agents on site *at the time*, but they could have been called in). However, the airport says they did not receive a request for them to call in customs agents, and would have, had the request been made.

    Basically, it’s the airline being inconsiderate and incompetent. They changed the flight crew to avoid the FAA hours limits, and thought nothing of the passengers.

  26. gwong says:

    This makes my being stuck on the tarmac at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, NY on a flight from SFO to JFK for over five hours seem rather insignificant. But, hey, at least these guys got water and crackers! Our flight ran out of snacks – thankfully, a flight attendant was kind enough to share some of her snacks with me.

  27. Anonymous says:

    How about just calling 911 and reporting you’re being held hostage. U’d be off the plane pretty quick. Technically YOUR ARE being held against your will…

  28. Dave J. says:

    It’s times like this I’m glad I’m an insulin dependent diabetic. I’d dose myself some extra insulin, have a full-blown reaction, freak the fuck out of all the flight attendants, and we’d be back to the gate, pronto.

    (And any jagoff on the plane who says “just give him a Pepsi, he’ll be fine” gets a cockpunch for runing my plan.)

    • shepd says:

      @Dave J.:

      Pepsi? Sweettarts (Basically flavoured emergency diabetic rations! LOL!) and an apple juice were what I was taught in my First Aid classes. Someone having a full on attack might end up making quite a mess with a fizzy drink. Watch out… we’re all around you… :D

  29. bohemian says:

    This is why I don’t fly if at all possible.

  30. yagisencho says:

    Douglas Adams was a prophet.

  31. XavieraHizanyous says:

    There’s an FAA law that passengers must be de-planed after 4 hours. This is a clear violation. The passengers should file complaints.

  32. synergy says:

    Lucky for them they didn’t have any diabetics or hypoglycemics on their plane. Otherwise they could’ve ended up with someone very sick or very dead.

  33. Cranky Customer says:

    I fly frequently and have given this problem much thought.

    FIRST, call your spouse/friend/whatever and let them know what’s going on.

    SECOND, dial 911 and report that you are being held against your will. In fact, you are…..regardless of what the airline’s rules are.

    THIRD, call the local television station, calmly explain the situation and tell them the police have been called. THAT’s the type of attention that gets airlines & arrogant pilots to pay attention. IT would also embarrass the hell out of the airport personnel.

    FOURTH, take pics or video of the cabin interior, the backed-up toilets, the screaming babies, etc.

    • floraposte says:

      @Cranky Customer: Apparently passengers did call the cops. But from the story, when the police did come, they surrounded the plane to ensure the passengers didn’t try to get off of it. However, I really like your PR-aimed suggestions.

  34. kbrook says:

    Claustrophobia, anxiety and hypoglycemia. I would be flipping out. And then I’d probably faint.

  35. rushevents says:

    Didn’t our way ineffective speaker of the House say she was going to pass legislation to keep this from happening?

    Oh yeah it was Pelosi (from CA I might add). She’s always saying she’s going to do things and then never does.

    My Bad. Sorry.

    • Cranky Customer says:


      REALLY? You found a way to blame this on a Democrat? That’s priceless. The bill was shot down by so-called “anti-regulation” Republicans. Thanks for reminding me about that.

      • Anonymous says:

        @Cranky Customer:

        Ummmm… The democrats are in charge of DC, have been for a while now, and will be even more in charge in a few weeks – thanks to people who have no idea what’s going on.
        In other words, republicans don’t have the power to “shoot down” anything (and I’m SO looking forward to the next two years, as the liberals exercise their almost-impermeable chokehold on the USA. It’s all on them now.)

        • trujunglist says:

          Just because the Democrats have finally taken over doesn’t mean that everything that goes wrong in the next 2 years will be all their fault. It took Bush 8 years to completely fuck everything up and let me tell you something, it’s going to take a hell of a lot longer to fix all of his mistakes. All on them? Yeah, to fix all of the mistakes that your idiot president (and before that, congress) made.

      • rushevents says:

        @Cranky Customer: Well let’s see.

        H.R. 1303 intorduced in committe (controlled by democrats) never made it out of committee. So much for the leadership of Pelosi

        S. 678 intorduced in committee (controlled by democrats) never made it out of committee. So much for the leadership of Reid.

        Bottom line, republicans can’t block committe legislation on their own when they do not hold the majority of seats on the comittee. Any minority party can delay or even block legislation on the floor of the entire house or senate but the committee is a different story.

        Civics 101. It died in committe because the Dems didn’t care enough to put it on the floor because if they had really wanted to they could have.

  36. bdk184 says:

    I remember one time many years ago i was flying from LAX to EWR (LA to Newark NJ) my filght was delayed in LA for an hour (that wasnt so bad) due to t-storms then when we landed in newark about 1am they brought us to the “parking lot” and turned off the jet. We were in the darkness for about 5 minutes until they turned on the aux lights. (everone pulled out their phone and any electronic device that glowed to use as flashlights until they turned on the lights) after about two hours of sitting with no food or water we all got in a chant “LET US OFF!” and about 10 minutes later (magically) a gate opened up and we got off. Just to think this was back in the day (~2000) when you were free to make a stink/riot on a plane without getting arrested on federal charges. BTW I started the chant :D

  37. Snaptastic says:


    A Control tower exists mainly to keep people from crashing into one another (it’s worded in our books as “separating aircraft and issuing safety alerts”). Not much that we can do when the weather is horrible, the destination airport is clogged up or closed, or traffic management tells the controllers that they can’t clear the aircraft to depart.

    Trust me, controllers love nothing more than to either get aircraft on the ground and in their parking spots, or in the air and sent off to the next sector. That’s one less plane that we have to worry about or talk to (and it is one happy pilot because he/she is on their way).

  38. AKAJBuddha says:

    sounds like my story… except we were stuck on the plane for 13 hours, and we were still at the gate, except we weren’t allowed to get off the plane “in case we got the clearance to take off” It’s all a load of bull…

  39. Demonbird says:

    About 4 years ago I was going to fly from LAX to DIA. Well, the plane arrived on time, but they didn’t board us until an hour had passed from the initial departure time with no updates, we then boarded, were told we were taking off, and I then noticed they weren’t positioning the plane for take off with us on it. They kept us on the tarmac for 4 hours with no updates.

  40. LadyHeather says:

    And people wonder why I won’t travel pregnant. There isn’t room enough in a carry on bag to carry all the food I’d need for that many hours. I’d be eating my own arm at that point. Or maybe scoping out someone a little meatier…

  41. Anonymous says:

    I flew from Atlanta to Santiago, Chile last Christmas. When transferring planes in Panama City, we learned that we would have to spend the night there. Copa not only got nice sandwiches for all passengers, but also sent us for the night to the most luxurious resort in the rain forest you could imagine…

  42. Roberto says:

    Taca flight 560 with destination to SFO was deviated to OAK because not enough fule to wait for landing turn in SFO. After 2hrs of being sitting on the ground I just noticed we are being fulled. We are still waiting for permit to land in SFO. I’ll update in 1/2 hr…