An airline pilot says she was forced to sleep in a plane overnight after her flight was diverted to a remote Colorado town because of severe weather

United Airlines Embraer E175
A United Express Embraer E170 regional jet. Austin Deppe / Shutterstock.com
  • SkyWest Airlines flight crew members said they were forced to sleep on their plane in Colorado.
  • Jessica Taylor, the captain, said it was a first in her 15-year career.
  • SkyWest said no hotels had been available and apologized for the inconvenience to passengers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A flight crew’s routine trip from Denver to Raleigh, North Carolina, and back involved an overnight stay aboard their plane in Hayden, Colorado, where they had been diverted because of severe weather.

SkyWest Airlines was operating Flight 5332 on behalf of United Express, the regional brand for United Airlines, on July 17. Tracking data from Flightradar24 showed the aircraft making a series of turns and flying in a holding pattern before heading to Hayden by way of Nebraska and Wyoming.

Jessica Taylor, the flight’s captain, described the ordeal on social media.

“This has been a challenging week of flying,” Taylor wrote. “After flying 8+ hours from Den-Rdu-Den (well Hayden after diverting) my crew and had to sleep on the airplane overnight …. Yes that’s right we slept on the floor of the airplane in Hayden.”

SkyWest Airlines flight 5332's route on July 17
SkyWest Airlines Flight 5332’s route on July 17. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Flightradar 24

SkyWest didn’t confirm Taylor’s account but told Insider that hotel accommodations had not been available in Hayden.

“Though we worked to make arrangements to get our customers to their destinations that evening, unfortunately the nearby area did not have hotel accommodations available under the circumstances,” SkyWest said in a statement to Insider. “We, along with our partners at United, apologized and United has reached out to customers to provide compensation for the inconvenience.”

The aircraft, an Embraer E170 regional jet registered as N613UX, departed for Denver the next afternoon and landed nearly 24 hours after it had left Raleigh, according to Flightradar24 data. Its next scheduled flight, from Denver to Idaho Falls, Idaho, was canceled.

The round-trip journey between Denver and Raleigh is scheduled to take just over eight hours, including a layover in Raleigh. In Taylor’s case, the same crew operated both legs of the trip.

Taylor said it was the first time she had been forced to spend the night on a plane because of a lack of accommodations.

“This is a first for me in 15+ years of professionally flying,” Taylor wrote. “I personally never thought I’d find myself sleeping on the floor of a plane as 38 year old airline captain.”

The Embraer E170 does have a first-class cabin with recliner seats, but the aircraft isn’t meant for overnight sleeping. United says the first-class seats are 24 inches (61cm) wide with 38 inches (97cm) of pitch and 6 inches (15cm) of recline.

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Taylor said that despite the ordeal, she remained in high spirits about her profession and the unique perspective it offers.

“It still leaves me speechless how freaking beautiful this world is from 36,000ft,” Taylor wrote. “Always find thankfulness.”