Aspen passengers sing the Delta blues; wait 5 hours on tarmac
pitkin county correspondent
ASPEN ” A Delta Air Lines flight sat on the runway for more than five hours Monday, the longest delay the Aspen/Pitkin County airport director can remember for a fully loaded plane.
Kathy Vance of Los Angeles said she boarded the Delta flight to Salt Lake City around 1:30 p.m. Monday. Thirteen hours later, she reached her final destination ” California.
“It was a nightmare,” she said. “They told us we were going to sit for a while, but then five hours later, we were still there.”
The grounded flight came on the heels of national uproar last week over Jet Blue flights sitting on runways for up to 10 hours. The backlash was so bad, Jet Blue announced a “passenger bill of rights” to address the resulting distress.
The Delta flight is just an addition to the headaches Aspen fliers have endured this winter, along with the cancellation of 19.3 percent of all flights arriving into Aspen, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Vance said she will think twice about a direct flight into Aspen and that she won’t fly Delta again.
Vance speculated that weight and wind were issues, though no Delta representatives were available to explain the wait. Other commercial and private flights took off while the Delta flight sat on the runway, Elwood said.
“All these United flights were leaving, and people were like, ‘Why are they leaving?'” Vance said. “We were just sitting there going, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.'”
After Vance got onto the flight around 1:30 p.m., Delta informed the passengers that the wait could take up to an hour. After two hours, they were cleared to fly, but Salt Lake City said they had to wait because too many airplanes were coming in. In the next five minutes, they lost the window as wind picked up again, she said.
“Then after about another hour and a half they said ‘Unload, but you can’t take your bags with you,'” Vance said. “That’s all the information they gave us. Nobody from Delta got on and told us anything. The flight attendants were clueless.”
Soon after that, Vance said the airline decided to take off all the luggage and give people the option to get off. Roughly half the plane left. She said Delta offered passengers a $400 voucher and nothing else when they got off the plane.
Soon after that, the flight took off and got into Salt Lake City just before 7 p.m. By that time, everyone had missed connections, so there was a second long wait in Salt Lake trying to find a plane home.
“My bag is still nowhere to be found,” Vance said 20 hours after she landed in Los Angeles. “I have no clue if they bused the baggage. It was really screwed up.”
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