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The Most AGONIZING Airline Delays: HuffPost Readers' Stories (PHOTOS)

First Posted: 11/30/09 05:12 AM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 03:15 PM ET

Last week, Congress heard from passengers' rights groups about the urgent need to pass new airline regulations. Advocates say the proposed measures, which include a provision requiring airlines to allow their passengers to deplane after three hours on the tarmac, would protect fliers from miserable treatment during overlong delays.

In light of this discussion, we took a look at some of the most horrific tarmac delays in recent memory (check out the Five Worst Tarmac Delays here). We asked readers to send us their own stories, the best of which we've collected in the slideshow below. Vote for the most disturbing entry or, if you haven't yet shared your tale, Click "Participate" below, and tell us your worst, most agonizing airline delay story in under 200 words, upload a picture of the offending airline and we'll add your contribution to the list. Don't spare any details!

The Worst Airline Delays
 

Find a picture, click the participate button, add a title and upload your picture


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  • American Airlines' Birthday Present To Me!

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/VespaGirl"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/VespaGirl">VespaGirl</a>: In June, my daughter and I were headed to NYC to meet up with my husband to celebrate my birthday that evening. The plane was a little late coming in, so we were a little late boarding. By the time we all got seated and thought we were ready to leave the pilot stated that weather in NYC was shutting down LaGuardia. At the time, my husband said the weather there was beautiful. After waiting at the gate for an hour they said we had to sit on the tarmac to free up the gate. Three hours later the pilot came on to say that we were headed back to the gate but they weren't canceling the flight, giving us hope that we would still get there. Fifteen minutes later at the gate, they canceled the flight! Not only would they not rebook me on a flight that evening, forcing me to stay at a hotel at my expense, they refused to give me back my luggage so I had absolutely nothing with me at the hotel. How my suitcase managed to make it to NYC and I didn't is still a mystery to me. I spent almost 3 days in the same clothes and had to spend around $30 for personal items, etc. American Airlines could NOT have cared less.

  • 23 Hrs London to Minneapolis

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Henk"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Henk">Henk</a>:In the late 90's, I spent 23 hours on a flight from London to Minneapolis. An air conditioning problem delayed our departure so we lost our place in the transatlantic air space. We waited 2 hours on the tarmac and finally took off. About an hour before we were to land in Minneapolis the captain came on and said there was severe weather in Minneapolis, so we were delayed. The delay took too long so we needed to refuel, and we went to Milwaukee for that. After leaving Milwaukee, we were told that there was still severe weather and we would wait it out. We circled Northern Minnesota for a couple hours. We had been on that plane for 11 to 12 hours at that point. After a few more hours we were out of water and food, the toilets were filling and they discovered that there were no fuel trucks that could fit our aircraft. We waited again while they looked for one. All this time I was sitting next to a drunken English man and his two buddies behind us. After several hours in Duluth we took off for Minneapolis, we landed 23 hours after our initial departure time from London. We were all given $100 off our next Northwest flight. This is a story that was never told in the media, but it has to be one of the worst.

  • Chicago And A 2005 Blizzard

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Commuter"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Commuter">Commuter</a>:My kid was home alone, and my cell phone was dead. This was the night the Southwest plane skidded off the runway at Midway. My afternoon plane at O'Hare was de-iced at the gate but had to wait so long in the takeoff queue it iced up. When air traffic control finally threw in the towel, the snow was driving so hard they couldn't see to drive back to the gate. We arrived back at the gate 4 hours after leaving it. Many passengers got off at this point. We waited at the gate for 5 hours more. Flight attendants showed every movie they had. They offered tours of the cockpit. They charged us for food and beverages! Finally the blizzard stopped, we de-iced again and flew home to San Francisco. By then, it was the next morning. Total wait time 9 hours, plus 4.5 hours flying.

  • JetBlue Runway Fiasco at JFK in Feb. 2006

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/danr2c2"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/danr2c2">danr2c2</a>:Search YouTube for "JetBlue Runway Fiasco." A year before JetBlue's infamous JFK delay in 2007, I documented my 8-hour tarmac delay and ensuing 3-day fiasco. This proves to me that JetBlue ignored warning signs of poor operating procedures and only attempted to correct something once it made major headlines. In my case, our flight was canceled after 8 hours on the tarmac and we were left to fend for ourselves. The 8-hour captivity was hard enough, but then to be unassisted with alternate arrangements was too much for me. ZERO preference was given to us for standbys and ZERO help was offered for alternative flights home even though a representative had said we would be "taken care of." After 2 days of 3-hour lines for customer service reps unwilling and unable to help, extra hotel and taxi charges, and pathetic baggage procedures we were forced to fly on another carrier. My luggage flew JetBlue out of JFK even though I ended up taking Southwest out of La Guardia a day later. Sure, JetBlue refunded our original tickets, but the short notice fare was more than double. The airline industry is a horrid place for people new to air travel or not wealthy.

  • Denver Tarmac On A Snowy Night

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/jsantiago"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/jsantiago">jsantiago</a>:Lots of snow coming down, as the flight was boarded around 8:00 p.m. at the Denver airport, destination Aspen, as I recall - this was 8 years ago - with families and many children. That was the first hour, when the captain came on the PA system to reassure us that we would have only a "slight delay" as the plane was de-iced. Lots of snow kept coming down. Second hour: clear discomfort and rumbling from the passengers, but most were in a good mood and quite patient, although children were restless. The plane had now been de-iced again. By the fourth hour, the crew had quit speaking to passengers, children were crying everywhere in the plane, the restrooms were overflowing, and there was still nothing to eat or drink. Everyone was thinking the same thing: it's late at night, it's still snowing like crazy, there's no information provided--get me out of here! Why are we on this runway?! Fifth continuous hour on the tarmac: no recognition from the crew about the abuse being suffered by passengers, especially the children and infants. Well into the fifth hour, an announcement finally came that we would be getting off the flight. The captain had apparently given up on his quest to fly to Aspen come hell or high water. (Do these guys get bonus points for defying the weather?) It had been snowing furiously for hours! When the doors were opened, the ENTIRE CREW closed itself into the pilot's compartment as the passengers left, most likely to avoid being the recipients of quite a bit of abuse themselves. It was over four and one half hours with overflowing toilets, no water at all, suffering infants and children, little to no information from crew during the last three hours, and all during an obviously HUGE snowstorm. This is called imprisonment, holding entire families against their will. Isn't there something in the Constitution about this kind of treatment?!

  • Hell Before Christmas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/inorbit"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/inorbit">inorbit</a>: A few years ago - on December 23 - I was stuck on a Northwest Airlines flight to Minneapolis for five hours at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Reportedly, we were ready to leave - after a seven-hour delay in the airport - when we got plowed in. We were given exactly one glass of water during our wait, in an unbearably hot plane that reeked of de-icing chemicals.

  • Stuck Twice At DFW

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/krm1255"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/krm1255">krm1255</a>:One time I was on the tarmac for 4.5 hours because of thunderstorms. No air conditioning in 100 degree heat and no water was offered. We don't treat animals like that. They could see the storms coming but rushed us onto the plane so they could push back on time. During another 4-hour delay (also due to storms) at least we were given water to drink and had air conditioning.

  • There ARE two sides to this story!

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/KathyinCT"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/KathyinCT">KathyinCT</a>: I fly almost weekly for business, and yes, I've sat on tarmacs. In Chicago last summer, during major thunderstorm I spent five hours on the tarmac. The Bathrooms worked, we had water. I had 3 books to read and the pilot kept us posted. Most people were OK with it. Another time, I spent 4 hours on tarmac at LGA -- winds so strong the plane was rocking, but at least we were away from the gate and the minute the storm cleared, we took off. Had we gone back to the gate, it would have been 30 to 45 minutes to board, what with all of the whiny leisure travelers who bring so much carry-on they can't move. I've got 20 or 30 more similar examples. Yet I've never seen these "broken, overflowing toilets," or people being denied water, or desperation. I honestly think that 9 times out of 10, the people who tell these "horror" stories are making it up or embellishing.


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Filed by Grace Kiser  |