A recent Delta flight was plagued by a string of bad luck that turned a four-hour trip from the Dominican Republic to New York City into a harrowing 30-hour ordeal.
By the end of the journey, half the passengers had given up and opted for other forms of travel, the plane nearly “broke in half” during turbulence, and people barfed into sick bags and used oxygen in record numbers.
Delta has since apologized but doesn’t plan to reimburse any of the harried travelers. So what started this chain of unfortunate events that led to a 30-hour headache? Simply a patch of snowy weather.
The Washington Post has provided the most detailed and frustrating account of the 30-hour flight with the help of passenger Lauren Karasek.
The journey began on Monday afternoon, when the Delta flight took off from Punta Cana for the four-hour journey to JFK Airport. The weather forecast was pretty dire at take off, and by the time the plane neared the northeast, inclement weather forced it to divert, Consumerist reported.
In fact, the aircraft circled the airport for a while as passengers gazed at the snow falling down below. Then the captain announced the bad news: they were running out of fuel and had to land in 10 minutes. So the Delta flight made its way to Manchester, New Hampshire.
There’s just one problem with that airport: it doesn’t accept international flights. But that wasn’t the only thing wrong.
Customs agents drove in from Portland, Maine, to process the 160 passengers, the Associated Press added. If that wasn’t enough, heavy snow and cold required the plane to be de-iced, and the crew was nearing its “time-out,” or the maximum amount they are allowed to fly. As a result, they couldn’t take off from Manchester, and everyone had to spend the night in town (Delta provided accommodations).
If you thought the problems in this 30-hour flight were now over, you’d be wrong.
The crew had trouble getting everyone off the plane: the first set of stairs rolled up to the aircraft didn’t fit, so a second one was brought in. Twenty people disembarked at a time and they settled in for a night in New Hampshire — but no one was in the airport to help them on their way.
So Karasek and her travel companions found a hotel on their own and received a “sorry” email from Delta at 1 a.m. At 8 a.m., they learned they’d depart — hopefully for NYC — in two hours. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be, and the worst part of this 30-hour voyage was about to begin.
The pilot tried twice to land at JFK — in 60 mph winds. Karasek watched many thrown about the plane, puking into sick bags, and requesting oxygen; she passed a packet of Dramamine around to her fellow passengers. Delta confirmed that several others fell ill. Another woman, Maribel Reyes, recalled the sight.
“There were a lot of people getting sick, several needed oxygen. It was really bad, I never experienced turbulence like that. I thought the plane was going to break in half. The pilot described it as a blender.”
So they were diverted, again, this time to Boston, and they landed at 3 p.m. At Logan airport, agents refused to let anyone into the terminal, and people started “banging on the door.” A compromise was reached, but Karasek took a train for the rest of her trip, finally arriving home at 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Of the original 159 passengers on board, only 90 of them lasted the entire 30-hour flight, which finally landed at 8 p.m. Many fed up people, like Karasek, made other arrangements. In the end, she spent an additional $650 on hotels and train tickets to get home, and said Delta has refused to reimburse her or anyone else. The airline has confirmed that decision.
Despite the 30-hour nightmare, the traveler is only bitter about the airline’s customer service but is putting the experience in perspective.
“Yes, this sucks, but there are plenty of other travesties in the world – let’s just take a minute to remember that.”
[Image via Markus Mainka/Shutterstock]