The flight from Orlando, FL to London, England usually takes somewhere between 9 - 11 hours nonstop. It's a major undertaking, but not terrible. British Airways has found itself with the difficult task of explaining why it took one group of passengers 77 hours to make the journey. Passengers are complaining of inhumane treatment on what people are calling "the flight from hell."
Flight 2036 was initially scheduled to leave Orlando at 7:25pm local time - on Thursday. That's important. Pin that. The plane ended up needing repairs, so was delayed for four hours. The airline realized repairs were going to take longer than expected, so passengers had the board a bus to take them to a hotel for the night. Passengers then spent the next day sitting around the airport repeatedly being told they would be leaving soon. The airline didn't feed them or offer compensation, deals for restaurants in the terminals - nothing. Eventually the flight took off - very late Friday night. It wasn't in the air for long before things went sideways again.
The flight was diverted to JFK in New York. After just a few short hours in the air, the British Airways found themselves on the ground again. This time, they were asked to just wait in the terminal for repairs. Unfortunately that "waiting" wasn't for just a few minutes. The passengers ended up waiting the full day with no food, no offer of a hotel room, etc. People were forced to scrounge; those who could afford to buy terminal food shared with those who could not. Eventually, cookies and chips were offered to some. British Airways later sent an entirely different plane to transport the passengers to London. Passengers got there on Sunday.
After it was over, one passenger told BBC:
The passengers were treated inhumanely. All we wanted was some food and drink, somewhere to sleep and to be kept informed — and they failed on all counts no matter what they claim.
According to reports, the passengers felt like British Airways had abandoned them for two days in two different cities while not communicating anything to anyone. And you'd better believe they were tweeting through the entire painful process.
@British_Airways Been sat on flight BA2036 MCO to LGW for over 2 hours on runway now due to an engineering fault. C… https://t.co/gE3ATWAByt— Tom Humphries (@Tom Humphries) 1541122556.0
@British_Airways any news re our flight BA2036!! The comms have been so great - not!! Now got a tornado warning!! W… https://t.co/uPWQVSvoBM— Emma Hardwick (@Emma Hardwick) 1541194947.0
@British_Airways this is shocking passing blame onto @RosenShingleCr, there was no BA representative at the hotel a… https://t.co/Bmw6StMj9z— Craig Brown (@Craig Brown) 1541285521.0
#BA2036 deplorable service. Cannot believe our children had to sleep on the floor of an airport terminal for five a… https://t.co/uoBma3r1xa— Rosie slater watts (@Rosie slater watts) 1541265220.0
@British_Airways @DJJimmyLee Oi @britishairways last night was on the floor of jfk airport . The night before was… https://t.co/5K53hewkhw— Nick (@Nick) 1541282476.0
@AndreaHuntz @British_Airways @th3s Because God forbid they lose money.— Louis Mihai (@Louis Mihai) 1541427431.0
There were some apologies made, but Twitter didn't seem to be too thrilled by them.
@British_Airways @glutenfreebrit Amazing, isn’t it, how a huge company like British Airways cannot make any executi… https://t.co/QkRqNqx59Z— 7kidchaos (@7kidchaos) 1541419129.0
@British_Airways @th3s I love how you waited until you thought Tom and the other pax were on their way home before you responded. Cowardly.— Laura Ward (@Laura Ward) 1541429040.0
@British_Airways @glutenfreebrit FU in Corporate speak. I can tell their truly feeling your pain,NOT!— Laughing Owl (@Laughing Owl) 1541432349.0
@British_Airways @glutenfreebrit I love the "hope you're 'no' on your way" bit. Clearly they've washed their hands… https://t.co/CSCW5PW3zh— dlm4200 (@dlm4200) 1541417804.0
Surely a multinational company like @British_Airways would have a strategy to deal effectively with #BA2036 after 7… https://t.co/EZrGR5NXtW— Ceri Todd (@Ceri Todd) 1541269200.0
A spokesperson for the airline made a statement via email. She claims the airline has already apologized and that passengers claims about their treatment are false.:
We appreciate that this was an exhausting and frustrating experience for our customers, and we have apologized for the long delay to their flight. Customers were re-booked where possible and while there were limited hotel rooms available, our teams on the ground cared for customers in our first-class lounge, providing bedding, food and drinks to ensure they were comfortable during their stay.
It doesn't seem like British Airways has much more to say on the subject, but people are pushing for compensation and a meaningful policy change. We'll let you know if that ever happens.