Last updated: 03:18 PM ET, Sat April 18 2015

Weather-Diverted Flights Strand Flyers on Tarmac for Hours

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | April 18, 2015

Weather-Diverted Flights Strand Flyers on Tarmac for Hours

Photo courtesy of the KOAA 5 Facebook page

With lightning advisories and other adverse weather conditions plaguing Denver International Airport (DIA) Friday morning, at least eight planes bound for that airport were diverted to Colorado Springs. Thus began an ordeal that had frustrated flyers waiting hours on the tarmac, and officials wondering why flyers weren’t allowed off the planes, KOAA 5 reported.

The most protracted experience was with United Flight 4934, operated by Republic Airlines. Departing Kansas City at 6 a.m. local time, and landed in Colorado Springs at 7:38 a.m. Passengers were let off the plane at 1:30 p.m., then taken by bus to DIA, arriving around 5 p.m.

Conditions deteriorated on the aircraft as the hours passed. Passengers told KOAA 5 that the bathroom ran out of supplies and became messy, and there was little food available.

"I feel like we've been hijacked, held hostage today, and there's just been no sincere effort to help us, I don't know I'm just shocked," said passenger Kathie Ridings to the news station.

Federal policy dictates that passengers have to be let off after three hours, and Republic did make that offer, but with a catch. Those who exited forfeited any connecting flights, so most stayed aboard.

Colorado Springs Airport said they aren’t sure why the airline didn't dock the planes at the gate to let the passengers off, citing a cost of $73.  

KOAA reached out to Republic, who cited weather as the main cause of the delays.

"I'm irritated, I'm upset, I'm just offended that they're treating people this way," Ridings said to KOAA after getting off the aircraft.

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