Flight Makes It Back to JFK After Being Diverted Twice

A plane that left the Dominican Republic Monday afternoon finally landed at Kennedy Airport Tuesday night, more than a day after it was supposed to arrive. 

Delta flight No. 944, carrying 159 passengers, departed Punta Cana 3:15 p.m. local time Monday and was set to land at JFK at about 6:15 p.m. local time, about four hours later. 

At about 6 p.m., the pilot announced the plane was still circling the New York area because heavy traffic at the airport was keeping it from landing, passenger Aye Soe of Long Island told NBC News over the phone. 

Because the plane was running out of fuel, the pilot ultimately made the decision to divert to Manchester, New Hampshire, where the plane landed at about 7 p.m., Soe said. 

But once the plane was refueled, the pilot said the crew was out of hours. Also, because the flight was international, passengers had to go through customs -- but there weren't any customs officers there ready to process people, according to Soe. 

After waiting two hours on the plane, passengers were finally allowed to deplane but they had to walk through heavy snow to get the customs area, Soe told NBC News. 

"It was snowing and cold, and everybody was tired and cranky after waiting on the plane for two hours," another passenger, Corie Buonanno of Tarrytown, told NBC 4 New York. 

Delta said customs agents arrived from Portland, Maine, to process the passengers, and that customers were accommodated overnight in local hotels.

But on Tuesday, when the tired travelers thought they were finally homebound, windy weather and turbulent skies forced the pilot to divert again, this time to Boston.

"There were a lot of people getting sick, several people needed oxygen," said Maribel Reyes of East Meadow. "It was really bad, I never experienced turbulence like that. I thought the plane was going to break in half. The pilot described it as a blender."

Finally, the passengers arrived back at JFK on a clear Tuesday night, rolling their luggage and carrying the tale of a trip that felt at times like it would never end.

"It's been 28 hours of traveling for a 3 1/2-hour flight," said one passenger. 

Delta has not issued a statement on the second diversion to Boston. 

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