LA to NY Flight Turns Into 16-Hour Chaos - NBC New York

LA to NY Flight Turns Into 16-Hour Chaos

Cookies were rationed -- not Pringles -- one trapped customer explained



    LA to NY Flight Turns Into 16-Hour Chaos
    Getty Images

    Saturday's stormy weather caused a New York bound Virgin America flight to go from up in the air to down and out on a tarmac during a 16-hour ordeal.

    Virgin America Flight 404 took off from Los Angeles at 7:10 a.m. PST (10:10 a.m. EST) and was scheduled to land at JFK by 3:30 p.m., until Mother Nature had other plans.

    High winds led to the closure of JFK, forcing the plane to divert 90 miles north at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, New York,  where it landed at 5:15p.m.

    A diversion usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes, but due to the "rapidly changing and deteriorating conditions," it wound up lasting for four and a half hours, according to Virgin America.

    During this time, the passengers nonetheless grew impatient and disgruntled.

    While Virgin America gave out water, food on the other hand ran out by the second hour on the runway.

    This prompted CEO of social network David Martin, fellow passenger and "Dancing with the Stars" judge Carrie Ann Inaba, among others to ration out cookies, ”not Pringles, that was inaccurate," Martin told NBCNewYork of a report in the New York Post about the ordeal.

    Virgin America said guests were given the option to leave the aircraft, in which a total of 20 did.

    After waiting out the storm for four hours, Virgin America decided to arrange buses to take passengers back to JFK.

    With no grounds crew of their own at Stewart airport, Virgin sought help from rival airline JetBlue to come on board and assist the travelers on the plane.

    At 2 a.m., (better yet at 3 a.m. thanks to Daylight Savings), passengers were finally sent to their original destination, JFK.

    Amid the fray, Martin used social networking to vent his frustration by consistently updating his Kontain account with photos and videos of the tense scene.

    Virgin America got wind of Martin's posts, which led to Virgin America CEO David Cush contacting Martin at home over a 10-minute conversation.

    Martin said he and Cush agreed that a $100 voucher was not enough compensation to the passengers, whereas full refunds will be given out "because it wasn't just a delay problem, it was more of how the flight crew handled the situation."

    In a statement to NBCNewYork, Virgin America said: "After reviewing the particular circumstances of this diversion, we agreed that we needed to have done a better job with communicating a difficult situation to our guests. Our CEO sent out apology letters to each of the guests on this flight and we refunded everyone for their flight."

    Martin said he would fly Virgin America in the future and praised Cush for reaching out.

    "I'm sure the CEO of Jetblue and American Airlines has never called up a passenger and be like 'Listen this is terrible, we need to sort this out,'" Martin told NBCNewYork. "Thankfully true with social media, passengers no longer have to write in complaints, the airline is watching for people like us to let people know what's going on and I think it's a great sign of customer service going forward."