A blind man's freakout aboard a Spirit Airlines flight from LAX to Fort Lauderdale became a vivid nightmare of a trip for some of those aboard, who waited 10 hours on a Houston tarmac over the weekend.
Flight 310, normally about a 5-hour trip, ended up being an overnight, 19-hour ordeal after the plane made an unplanned stop at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport to get rid of the 86-year-old, partially blind man.
He was kicking and ranting in French, adding to the confusion and fear on-board, according to Associated Press and South Florida's Local 10 news.
The problem was this: After making a hasty and unscheduled landing in Houston, an airport Spirit doesn't serve, the airline had to corral a backup crew, as its crew had already worked the mandatory time allowed under federal law.
This, apparently, took 10 hours.
Nearly 100 passengers were inside the plane for 2 hours as it sat on the tarmac, according to a Nightline report on the fiasco last night. One of the issues was that, because Spirit didn't have an infrastructure at the airport, they didn't even have hands and gear to get people off the aircraft.
After that, people somehow got into a terminal, but then they were told they would be taken for a several-hour bus ride to Dallas, where Spirit had a set-up, according to the show. Footage showed that passengers were in an uproar, and that plan was scrapped while a backup plane was brought to Houston.
After that, the plane went to Fort Lauderdale and landed Sunday, nearly 20 hours after its Saturday takeoff from LAX.
In a statement to the Weekly, a Spirit spokeswoman said:
Spirit flight 310 from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale was diverted to Houston's Bush Intercontinental, an airport we do not currently serve, yesterday due to a disruptive customer.
We apologize for the inconvenience this caused our customers onboard this flight. However, the safety of our customers is always the top priority when making these decisions.
When we are forced to divert to an airport that Spirit does not currently serve, it takes additional time to secure a gate and assist customers in safely deplaning. In addition, we must adhere to crew duty time requirements, which became a factor in this situation as well.
We flew in another aircraft and crew as quickly as possible in order to take our customers to Fort Lauderdale.
Full refunds are being given to all customers for this flight, as well as a $100 future flight credit for each customer.
Again, we truly apologize to our customers onboard this flight.
Still, passengers complained that they were kept inside the plane without much information as it sat on the hot tarmac in Houston. Some reported there was no air conditioning.
The weather in Houston? In the high 80s.
The blind guy was travelling alone and probably just scared, cops told Local 10. Nightline reported that he might have been mentally challenged. His son traveled from L.A. to pick him up.