Airline Passengers Say They Were Stranded On Tarmac Without Food For 12 Hours

Etihad Airline AeroplaneHENNING KAISER/AFP/Getty ImagesAn Etihad aeroplane arrives in Duesseldorf, Germany after arriving 30 hours late from Abu Dhabi on January 4, 2015. The plane arrived late due to fog and an elderly passenger passing away on board.

Hundreds of air travellers landed in San Francisco, safe but irritated after a 28-hour overseas flight they say included 12 hours on a tarmac in the Middle East without food or accurate flight information.

Tempers grew short on Etihad Airlines Flight 183 when fog in the city of Abu Dhabi delayed takeoff for a half-day, passengers told San Francisco broadcaster KGO.

“They kept telling us that we were going to leave, you know 15 minutes from now, 20 minutes from now, 30 minutes for now, for 12 hours,” passenger Thomas Piani told reporters in San Francisco after finally landing in the city on Saturday evening.

Passengers said the flight crew told them the Abu Dhabi airport was too crowded with other stranded flights to allow them to get off the plane to wait.

“Everybody was fighting with each other, and the flight attendants were fighting with us, and we were fighting with the flight attendants,” passenger Venkatesh Pahwa said.

Etihad, a national airline of the United Arab Emirates, which includes Abu Dhabi, said in a statement on its website that fog had delayed flights and caused airport congestion.

The airline apologised for travellers’ inconvenience but said the delays were beyond its control.

Etihad spokespeople did not immediately respond to an after-hours request from The Associated Press for comment on passengers’ complaints about conditions onboard during the wait on the tarmac.

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