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The fallout and the repercussions of air travel chaos are found not in the massive amount of delays and cancellations but in the singular, personal stories of weary travelers.
A couple returning to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina via American Airlines' hub in Charlotte from a trip to the Dominican Republic had the second leg of their flight canceled - leaving them stranded at 1:30 in the morning with no baby formula and no way to feed their nine-month-old infant.
The pilot shortage.
According to an article in Business Insider, 'Donna', who did not want her last name used, said her flight landed safely in Charlotte and they were prepared for the short jump to RDU. But she quickly began received alerts on her phone from the airline that the flight from Charlotte was going to be delayed. Donna, her husband and the baby boarded at 12:30 a.m. but the plane remained parked at the gate until the pilot came on with an announcement.
"We kept waiting until the pilot stated that the flight was canceled as they couldn't find a copilot and we all had to exit the airplane," Donna said.
When they asked American Airlines for help, the airline said it would take two to three hours to rebook them.
"We decided with our baby that we did not want to wait in a long line at 1:30 a.m., so we were going to rent a car and drive back home to Raleigh - which is about two hours away from Charlotte."
But at that hour the rental car desks were closed and they could not find a hotel room.
"I had packed enough formula for our trip and to get back home. Unfortunately, I did not account for there being an extremely long delay or canceled flight," she said. "The airport looked like a refugee camp as hundreds and thousands of stranded passengers slept on chairs, floors, doorways - everywhere."
American, which did not return a call for comment regarding the July 25 incident, offered the family a flight home later that morning, which Donna said they had no choice but to accept. She said American told her it was not a pilot issue but a weather delay.
"This was not a weather issue, but a staffing issue as there was no second pilot. The pilot himself got on the intercom and stated that he had no second pilot and could not fly the plane without a copilot," Donna said.
Rich Thomaselli has written for TravelPulse since 2014 and has been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. His work has...
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