The weather forecast was less than ideal for the Delta Airlines flight that left Monday afternoon bound for John F. Kennedy International Airport from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, but no one aboard could have imagined just how bad things would get.
According to multiple news reports and tweets from the passengers themselves — the four-hour flight turned into a 30-hour nightmare with two flight diversions caused by bad weather. At one point, the turbulence was so bad, one passenger told NBC that she thought the plane was going to break in half.
“I’ve never seen an air sick bag used before and many were,” said Lauren Karasek, another passenger aboard the flight.
Delta apologized for the problems.
In an emailed statement Wednesday, spokesman Michael Thomas confirmed the multiple diversions.
Delta flight 944 from Punta Cana was unable to land at JFK due to runway conditions and inclement weather in the New York area. The flight diverted to Manchester (N.H.) where it remained overnight to comply with mandated crew rest requirements. The flight redeparted for JFK the following day as Delta flight 9929 but diverted to Boston as a result of severe weather in New York. With improving conditions, the flight arrived at JFK before 8 p.m. EST Tuesday.
Karasek said the flight left as scheduled, bound for New York with no indication that anything was amiss. Even as the flight circled the airport, passengers aboard were unconcerned. Looking out the window, passengers could see there was heavy cloud cover and snow. Then the captain spoke.
“He said that we were low on fuel and had to land in 10 minutes or we needed to be diverted,” Karasek, 30, recalled.
So diverted they were — to Manchester, which would have been all well and good– except that the airport isn’t equipped to handle international travel so there were no customs officials to process the 160 or so passengers. (Delta officials told PIX 11 that agents were brought in from Portland, Maine 95 miles away).
Then there were other problems. Because of heavy snow and cold, the plane had to be de-iced. And, because the flight had taken so long, there was a risk that the crew would “time-out” meaning they’d reached the maximum amount of time they could fly.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Lori Aratani