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'Disaster': Travelers Decry '22-Hour' Delta Nightmare at JFK

NBC New York logo NBC New York 8/22/2019
a group of people in a room © Photo Credit: Trevor Dow/Eloise Moran

A Delta flight that was supposed to leave John F. Kennedy Airport Wednesday afternoon en route to Los Angeles was still stuck on the Queens tarmac the next morning, prompting a flood of angry tweets from frustrated passengers who said they were stranded at the airport a stunning 22 hours. 

The plane, Delta flight DL0975, had been supposed to take off at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. The airline's website shows it departing JFK at 9:20 a.m. Thursday. According to social media reports, passengers were stuck on the tarmac through much of the delay, initially sparked by severe storms that hit Wednesday.

As passenger Eloise Moran told News 4, "It's literally been h*ll." 

Video posted to Twitter by Moran showed all out chaos in the terminal, with angry fliers packed in like sardines, demanding answers from Delta staff. Moran's photos showed cramped passengers sleeping on the floor; at least one did have a pillow and blanket, though other fliers said they had no accommodations.

One traveler from London told News 4 there were a series of delays and false starts -- the plane was finally going to leave, then it wasn't, then it was and wasn't and so on through the evening until about 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Delta first blamed mechanical issues, then the weather, then crew issues, travelers said.

The man said passengers had to sleep in the airport lounge with no water, no pillows and no covers. They were given meal vouchers, he said, but everything was closed at the time, according to him, so they were left with nothing. 

"Customer service was just about zero on a scale of 1 to 10," he said. "I'm a world traveler ... I have never in my life experienced such truly cr*p customer service." 

This 56-year-old man, who was simply trying to catch a connecting flight in New York after his trip from London, was not alone in his frustration. 

"Check this out. Disgraceful. @Delta telling the hundreds of passengers of flight 975 (after waiting on the tarmac for a total of 8 hours and having to get off the aircraft twice for a multitude of reasons including mechanical) that they won’t provide hotels for us," one flier tweeted. 

"Flight 975 from jfk to lax is a disaster. Delays due to mechanical problems and flight crew issues. And now we’re all sleeping on the floor at JFK. Sorry, but water and cheese-its are not enough. Never flying @delta," tweeted another.

In response to one passenger's tweet Thursday, Delta said, "Hello there. We apologize for the delay, however, the delay is due to weather, and the snowball effect of delays causes crew timeouts, air traffic, and gate congestion just to name a few. We will get you out of there as soon as possible."

In a statement to News 4, the airline said, "Delta apologizes to the customers on Flight 975 operating from JFK to Los Angeles, which was delayed Wednesday evening due to weather in New York. Customers were offered water, snacks and meal vouchers in the terminal, and the flight is scheduled to depart for Los Angeles this morning."

The fracas follows yet another incident over the weekend at JFK in which passengers were said to have been stuck on the tarmac for at least six hours. In that case, Delta blamed weather in both New York and the flight's destination in Miami for the delay, saying customers were offered water and snacks. The airline also apologized for the inconvenience.  


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