Weather And Short Staffing Cause Consternation

April 21, 2010

in Delay/Cancellation Stories

On June 3rd, I was on American Airlines flight 1300 from Dallas, TX to Reagan National in Washington D.C. A little over three hours into the flight, we were told that because of earlier, inclement weather, the runways, gates, etc. at Reagan were congested. As a result, we were waiting on authority to land, and in the meantime had to stay in the air.

After about 4 hours in the air, we were told we would be landing at Washington Dulles instead of Washington Reagan due to this congestion. Everyone groaned at the change of airports and the logistical challenges that would present to those making connections, meeting rides, etc.

The flight attendants prepared for landing, the landing gear was down, and we could see the airport, ground personnel, etc. As we came in for landing, all of a sudden the plane was jerked back into the air and we were no longer landing. Most of the plane gasped, and then we sat still. It was raining outside, and the pilot made an announcement that due to a change of weather patterns, we would now have to land from the north. So, again we flew around a bit, and again came in for the landing… the landing gear came down, we could see the airport personnel, it was still raining, and again the plane jerked back into the air. At this instant the woman behind me started getting a little anxious. She asked those of us around her if this was normal, if we were safe. She thought she saw snow on the wings even. Then the captain announced, due to the inclement weather in this area, we again cannot land. So, back in the air we go.

After about 5.5 hours, the pilot announces that we will be landing in Baltimore, MD (probably 90 miles from our Reagan airport destination). We were all a little upset by the change of destination, but all really ready to be off of the plane. So, we come in for the landing in Baltimore… the plane shakes, but we land. We clap.

The pilot announces, “we are now awaiting AA personnel to meet the plane.” They were trying to arrange for a gate for us. So, we sit another 30 minutes waiting for a gate. We pull up to the gate, we can see the jetway… the pilot announces the gate is open. But, due to the chance for lightning, none of the ground personnel can pull us into the gate.

We wait for another 30 minutes, and finally are pulled into the gate. As he gets off the plane, the pilot tells us to wait for a decision whether we will refuel and fly to Reagan.

The pilot gets back on the plane and says, nope… this flight is terminating in Baltimore. See the AA personnel at baggage claim, and they will instruct you how to get to Reagan (90 miles away).

We get our luggage. We ask the AA baggage person for instructions, she tells us to see the “lady in the green smock” by the taxi stand. We ask the lady in the green smock, she tells us to see the baggage person for instructions.

We have over 125 people from the flight stuck in Baltimore… and there are only 2 American personnel on duty to work this flight and try to get us to Reagan, and neither of them have been given instructions on how to handle this or what to do!

Anyway, they end up putting all 125 people into taxis and taking us to Reagan.

I understand the issues with the weather was the main problem with this flight. But, I was so shocked that American Airlines did not properly staff to handle this flight on the ground. It was supposed to be a 3 hour flight. It took us nearly 7 hours to get to Baltimore, so American had plenty of time to plan.

I emailed my complaints to American (the only way to register a complaint other than snail-mail). They gave me a canned response, saying that due to weather they would not be giving any compensation. In my mind the compensation should not be due to the weather… but due to lack of proper staffing to handle the flight.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

albert g April 21, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Yep…thats a flight from hell alright.


Stephanie April 22, 2010 at 1:29 am

Actually BWI is only 30 miles or so by road from Reagan National (a little over 35).

Dulles is actually just about as far — about 28-30 miles from National.

They should've arranged a shuttle or bus for you all. It's not that far. Strange that Dulles and Reagan would've both had issues though. Must've been a good sized storm.


James July 13, 2013 at 10:30 am

BWI would actually be preferable to IAD — a Maryland commuter train station is there that can take people directly in to Washington, and connect to the remains of the Washington Metro.


Jim April 22, 2010 at 9:16 am

Wow…I sent this in to Flights from Hell last June, and it is just now being posted….interesting.

Stephanie, Thanks for clarifying the distance between Baltimore and Reagan…for some reason, it took nearly an hour and a half for the cab driver to get us there…so, I assumed, (wrongly) it must be about 90 miles. Granted part of that time, may have been waiting for the taxi…as we were standing in line as they put 5 of us in a taxi.

And, to top off this trip…it was my wife's b-day. The hotel was to have wine and candies in the room…but, nope…nothing was there. The hotel was newly renovated..nice plantation shutters on the windows…with east exposure, so no room darkening blinds…and so sun came in the windows bright and early….

Sometimes, trips are just doomed I guess.


Gregg - admin April 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Jim: We generally post stories in the order in which they're received. Incredibly, there were hundreds of stories that preceded yours, mostly due to the CNN article about Mr. Poopy Pants. Your patience is greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience!


Beth July 12, 2013 at 11:57 am

How did your flight have enough fuel to fly around for 10+ hours after your scheduled landing? And Baltimore is about a 40 minute drive away – so way less than 90 miles. Plus there are direct buses and trains that go between the two cities –and, in fact, between the two airports.

I think this one has some truth in there, but it's hidden behind all the lies…


James July 13, 2013 at 10:28 am

Aircraft are required to carry excess fuel exactly for this reason. It was probably redirected to BWI since this excess was nearing the flight limit.


Leave a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post:

Next post: