What was expected to be a routine flight from Kansas City to Denver turned into an ordeal Friday, after passengers waited on the tarmac in Colorado Springs for six hours — and the flight ended up getting canceled.
"I feel like we've been hijacked, held hostage today, and there's just been no sincere effort to help us," Kathie Ridings, a passenger on Republic Airlines Flight 4934, told NBC station KOAA. “I'm just shocked.”
The plane left Kansas City bound for Denver International Airport at 6:21 a.m., but was diverted to Colorado Springs due to bad weather that also diverted many other planes Friday. Passengers were told they could leave the plane, but they would forfeit their seats and any connecting flights, and many stayed on board, the station reported.
Those that stayed remained on the tarmac for six hours and were taken off the aircraft at 1:30 p.m., KOAA reported. The stranded passengers were put on a bus and sent to Denver International by road, the station reported.
"I'm a little upset," passenger Anderson Willms told KOAA. "I mean, we literally sat on the tarmac for six hours."
Republic Airlines, operating as United Express, said in a statement that it was forced to park the plane because of a lightning advisory in the Denver area. The airline said in a statement that two ground stops — air-traffic control measures that restrict flights to an impacted airport — at Denver caused further delays.
"Republic apologizes for the inconvenience, but as always, the safety of our customers and crew is always our #1 priority," the company said in a statement, adding that United is reaching out to passengers to offer compensation.
Denver International said foggy conditions forced about 50 flights to land at other airports Friday morning, NBC station KUSA in Denver reported.
- Travelers Diverted from Denver to Colorado Springs Wait on Plane for Hours (KOAA)
- Diverted Denver-Bound Flight Stuck on Runway for Hours (KUSA)