Ted Garber of Washington,D.C. endures 9-hour flight from DCA to Miami

7:12 PM, May 23, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- A traveling musician says his American Airlines flight from Reagan National was the worst travel experience of his life. The full flight from Washington to Miami should have taken two hours and 40 minutes. Instead, it took nearly nine hours.

The ordeal started around 2 p.m. Tuesday. Ted Garber, a Washington D.C. -based musician, says they sat on the Tarmac at Reagan National for two hours due to bad weather in Florida. He concedes that passengers were given a chance to get off, but he says American Airlines staff said they would not be allowed back on the plane. Then, they circled Miami International Airport for two more hours before diverting to another airport due to low fuel. Garber says they finally arrived in Miami around 10:30 p.m.

"We were only offered a measly granola bar. Not even a full size, just the mini size," said Garber. "We were offered water twice, but not in the last four or five hours of the flight."

Throughout the ordeal, Garber (@tedgarbermusic) took to Twitter to vent: "#AmericanAirlines has treated us worse than diseased cattle. We have not even been offered water for hours. #Flight637"

His twitter followers even started a #FreeTed campaign. But when he was finally freed, he had nowhere to go. He had already missed his connection to Key West.

"The most insulting part, the part that really had everybody irate was we finally get off the plane and there's nobody from American Airlines! There was nobody standing there when we come off the plane, nobody telling us where to go," said Garber.

He then started narrating videos on his Facebook page: "American Airlines has come up with a great deal, for half off at a hotel with shuttle service for only a hundred bucks a person."

Garber, like many passengers on Flight #637, spent the night at the airport. He says he finally made it to Key West Wednesday morning where he plans to write a song called, "Un-American American Airlines."

Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines, denied any wrongdoing and said the airline did not violate any of the provisions of the Tarmac Delay Rules:

"While it was certainly a long, tiring day for our customers due to bad weather and air traffic control (ATC) delays in South Florida, American Airlines did not violate any of the provisions of the Tarmac Delay Rules. The initial delay leaving the gate at Washington Reagan National was because Air Traffic Control would not allow the flight to depart the gate due to bad weather and air traffic congestion in Miami. During the time the aircraft was parked at the gate in Washington, the door to the aircraft was open and passengers had the ability to get off if absolutely necessary - though we are not aware of any who did. Time spent waiting at the gate with the door open - per Tarmac Delay Rules - DOES NOT count against the 3 hour delay period of the rules. Nevertheless, after two hours of sitting at the gate, our crew provided snacks and water to passengers as required by the rules. The aircraft door was ultimately closed and the aircraft departed the gate at DCA at 4:07 p.m. after being given clearance to leave by ATC. As the aircraft was flying into South Florida, due to the Miami weather and air traffic congestion in the Miami area, ATC once again directed the plane to divert to another airport - in this case West Palm Beach. This was also necessary to accommodate the need to refuel the aircraft since it could not land in Miami per ATC. The aircraft diverted and landed at West Palm at 9:13 p.m. Contrary to some claims by others, the aircraft was only at the gate in West Palm for 19 minutes for refueling. It left the gate at 9:32 p.m. - it then taxied out to the runway and took off from the runway in Palm Beach at 9:50 p.m. It landed and was at the gate in Miami at 10:27 p.m."

"While no one enjoys long delays caused by bad weather and less-than-direct Air Traffic Control routings (decisions which we have no control of), our cockpit and cabin crews did their best to take care of our customers and get them to their ultimate destination the same day as scheduled. At all times, the FAA and DOT rules for such delays were followed and no Tarmac Delay Rule violations were incurred. We certainly do regret the inconvenience of a long, tiring day, but our own customer surveys tell us over and over that the majority of customers would prefer to arrive late because of bad weather conditions rather than have the flight canceled and not arrive at all."




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