According to Business Insider, Donna, who opted not to share her last name, her husband, and their baby had taken a flight from the Dominican Republic to Charlotte on July 25, en route to their home in Raleigh.
After arriving at Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 1:30 a.m. they began receiving alerts notifying them that their Charlotte-Raleigh flight was delayed. They were able to board the flight at 12:30 a.m., however, the plane stayed at the gate for over an hour as American Airlines searched for a copilot for the flight.
“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.
In need of a solution, the family went to the American Airlines counter hoping to get rebooked on the next flight out. They soon discovered that the people already in line in front of them had been waiting for two to three hours.
“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.”
Unfortunately, none of the rental desks remained open at that hour. Donna and her family tried to find a hotel room for the night, but after making over a dozen calls, were unable to find any vacancies.
“The airport looked like a refugee camp,” said Donna, “as hundreds and thousands of stranded passengers slept on chairs, floors, doorways — everywhere.”
The couple’s biggest concern, however, was feeding their baby, as they had only packed enough formula to last for the duration of their trip.
“Unfortunately, I did not account for there being an extremely long delay or canceled flight.”
The couple called American Airlines’ customer service, but all they offered them was a flight flying out of Charlotte the next day, an offer they had no choice but to accept.
The airline told Donna that the flight cancellation was due to inclement weather, thus “they wouldn’t have to accommodate you in any way — no food vouchers, no hotel vouchers, nothing.”
“They did not care that we were traveling with a 9-month-old baby and that we ran out of formula.”
However, Donna says the issue was not a weather issue, but a staffing issue.
“The pilot himself got on the intercom and stated that he had no second pilot and could not fly the plane without a copilot.”
The ordeal left the couple feeling “very helpless, confused, perplexed, saddened, and infuriated….scared and anxious thinking about how we would feed our baby.”
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