Delayed and canceled flights have been major issues this summer. Across the country, many American travelers have found themselves stuck and out of luck. Airlines contributed the issues to staffing shortages. However, many travelers are at their wit’s end with delayed flights.

The 303 passengers aboard American Airlines flight 38 experienced this frustration firsthand when they were stranded in Bermuda. Following claims of a smokey smell emitting from the cockpit, the aircraft emergency landed in the British island territory on August 29 while heading to London. The plane took off three hours earlier from Miami and the airlines cited mechanical issues as the reason for the landing. 

Travelers had a lot to say as they detailed the 20 hours they spent waiting at LF Wade International Airport in St. George’s. From waiting hours for food provisions to a lack of restroom facilities, some passengers felt abandoned by the airline. However, most travelers simply just wanted to get home safely.

Hungry & Stranded

One of the biggest complaints from passengers was the delay in getting food while waiting at the airport. According to travelers on flight AA38, it was 10 hours before food was available for them. Hungry and stranded, many passengers felt inconvenienced and forgotten. 

Jonathan Lo, musical director at the Northern Ballet, had just proposed to his fiance in Cape Town, South Africa. Splitting their time between London and Birmingham, the couple was completely caught off guard when they found themselves stuck in Bermuda. They were “dosing off” when flight staff alerted passengers of “an indication of overheating electronics” on the aircraft.

“A little later on it was backed up by a further announcement to say that, actually, they could smell smoke in the aircraft cockpit,” he told the PA news agency.

A dramatic scene ensued as fire trucks followed behind the plane. Lo said passengers waited more than three hours before being updated on what was going on. In the meantime, there was no food and only eight toilets and showers for the 300 travelers to use. 

Tempers rose as the slew of travelers were left in the dark by the airline. It wasn’t until 5 am that they realized they’d be spending the night at the airport. The staff provided them with blankets and pillows from inside the plane for them to settle in. 

However, it wasn’t until 12:30 PM local time that any food was offered to the passengers. They also weren’t allowed to leave the airport for food due to Bermuda’s COVID-19 restrictions.

“That’s a whole whopping 10 hours after people have landed with children and were really hungry,” Lo said.

Like Lo, many passengers missed important dates and appointments as a result of the 20-hour detour. His fiancee practiced her dance routine for her first day teaching at Birmingham Royal Ballet. But being stuck in Bermuda caused her to miss the first day of class. Lo also missed the first day of rehearsals.

“(We feel) abandoned by the airline really… literally in the middle of the Atlantic,” he said. “When we landed, we didn’t know how long it was going to be… had we been kept updated regularly, we would have been able to make plans and I’m sure the airport staff would have been able to make plans quicker.

Left In The Dark With The Lights On

The inconvenience caused by the stranded flight caused issues for more than just the 303 passengers on board. Danny Wells was headed home after vacationing in Miami when he found himself waiting for hours in the Bermuda airport. The disruption caused him to miss multiple days of work. It also inconvenienced the family housing sitting for him back home in Hertfordshire.

“We have family house-sitting and both have now had to take the day off tomorrow as well as they are looking after animals,” Wells said. 

Wells said he had to use extra vacation days to cover the time spent waiting in Bermuda. And the experience didn’t sound pleasant as passengers laid out in the hallways with empty bellies and minimum insight into what was happening. 

“(There are) rows of people asleep on the floor, the lights have been on almost all night (and) everyone is freezing because the air con is on so they had to get everyone’s blanket from the plane,” he told the PA. 

Passengers posted photos of them wrapped up in blankets and sleeping on the airport floor on Twitter. When the food finally arrived, one passenger compared the sausage and eggs to “prison food”. Angry and stranded, there was nothing travelers could do but wait for another plane to arrive to take them to London.

A Heartfelt Apology

According to the airport staff, the flight was diverted to Bermuda due to the US Federal Aviation Administration crew rest requirements. However, American Airlines issued a statement saying the delay was in fact due to an issue with the aircraft.

“American Airlines flight 38, from Miami (MIA) to London (LHR), diverted to Bermuda (BDA) this morning after a possible mechanical issue,” the airline said in a statement. 

The airline also apologized to passengers for the inconvenience. 

“We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans, and we apologize for the trouble this has caused,” the statement said.

Unfortunately, one passenger posted on Twitter a statement from the Bermuda government detailing that while the airline didn’t inquire about hotel provisions for passengers, they did make sure their crew members had accommodations.