The Delta Airlines flight that lasted 30 hours instead of four hours was frightening because of the time delay and because of some severe turbulence that left passengers wondering if they would make it home alive. Delta Airlines Flight 944 departed Punta Cana, a popular resort destination in the Dominican Republic, on time and landed – almost — at New York’s JFK airport four hours later, but not so.
After leaving the Dominican Republic at 2:15 p.m. EST, Flight 944 carrying 159 passengers was in the New York area around 6 p.m., but since there was too much traffic on the ground, the plane had to circle, reports NBC New York on February 17. When the plane started to run out of fuel because of the landing delay, the pilot had to divert the flight to Manchester, New Hampshire.
After landing in a different state around 7 p.m. on Monday evening, the plane was able to refuel. However, since the crew had to be exchanged due to work hours, the plane was not quite ready to continue its journey.
Having touched ground on American soil, the international flight was required to go through customs at the Manchester airport instead of New York, but since the flight had made an unexpected landing, there were no customs officers available in Manchester. U.S. customs agents had to drive through the snow from Portland International Jetport, which is 95 miles away, while the passengers had to wait on the plane.
According to Delta Flight 944 passenger Aye Soe from Long Island, after waiting on the plane for two hours, the passengers had to walk through heavy snow to get the customs area. “It was snowing and cold, and everybody was tired and cranky after waiting on the plane for two hours,” said another passenger.
After staying at a hotel for the night, the flight was to continue to its destination on Tuesday morning, but windy weather and turbulent skies forced the pilot of the flight to divert the plane again. After two failed landing attempts, the plane was able to land – but in Boston.
“There were a lot of people getting sick, several people needed oxygen,” recalls one Delta passenger. “It was really bad, I never experienced turbulence like that. I thought the plane was going to break in half. The pilot described it as a blender.”
By Tuesday night, only 90 of the original 159 passengers finally arrived at JFK. Many of the other passengers reported that they had been treated so rudely by Delta employees that they had chosen to use Amtrak to travel from Boston to New York. Those who did arrive at JFK from Boston at 8 p.m. expressed a deep sense of gratitude to the Delta pilot who brought them back home safely – even though it was 30 hours later.