American Airlines Plane Stuck on Tarmac for Seven Hours

An American Airlines plane, headed to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport but diverted by bad weather on Sunday, sat on a tarmac in San Antonio for hours, causing frustration and anger among passengers.

John Puff, one of those passengers, told NBC5DFW television that the plane remained on the tarmac for seven hours.

“Some people complained that they had medical issues. They were concerned about anything from diabetes to sitting too long,” Puff said. “People were starting to talk like, ‘Hey, we can open the doors ourselves.’ You want to do that but can’t do that. It started to get scary. We got off at the right time.”

He added that exposure to COVID-19 also became an issue when airline crew began handing out food and water, “passing it person to person over everyone’s shoulder. And I raised the objection that in the COVID-19 world that’s a little bit risky. It was the hand-to-hand contact and close proximity that was a concern.”

U.S. Department of Transportation regulations require that airlines give passengers the option of getting off a plane after three hours of arriving at an airport tarmac unless safety issues prevent it.

In a statement, American Airlines said: “Due to severe weather in North Texas Sunday evening, nearly 85 American Airlines flights were diverted to other airports throughout the region. The extended FAA-issued ground stop at DFW caused additional delays – even after customers were offered the ability to deplane – and some flights remained overnight at other airports. Customers who did not make it to DFW Sunday evening were provided with free hotel accommodations and continued their journey (Monday) morning. “We never want to disrupt our passenger’s travel and apologize for any inconvenience this severe weather caused our customers. Our customer relations team is reaching out to those customers who were impacted by the weather Sunday evening.”

Another passenger on the plane said there was no offer to deplane within the first three hours of arriving in San Antonio.

American Airlines said it would look into reports that some customers were not offered the ability to deplane, but also have reports of passengers refusing the offer to deplane in an attempt to wait out the weather.

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