SAN FRANCISCO – Hundreds of air travelers landed in San Francisco, safe but irritated after a 28-hour overseas flight they say included 12 hours on a tarmac in the Middle East without food or accurate flight information.
Tempers grew short on Etihad Airlines Flight 183 when fog in the city of Abu Dhabi delayed takeoff for a half-day, passengers told San Francisco broadcaster KGO.
"They kept telling us that we were going to leave, you know 15 minutes from now, 20 minutes from now, 30 minutes for now, for 12 hours," passenger Thomas Piani told reporters in San Francisco after finally landing in the city on Saturday evening.
Passengers said the flight crew told them the Abu Dhabi airport was too crowded with other stranded flights to allow them to get off the plane to wait.
"Everybody was fighting with each other, and the flight attendants were fighting with us, and we were fighting with the flight attendants," passenger Venkatesh Pahwa said.
Flight attendants eventually passed out sandwiches and water after some people made a fuss over the lack of food, passenger Ravali Reddy said.
"No one was angry about the delay itself. If it's unsafe to fly, we don't want to fly," she said. "It just didn't seem to make any logical sense why we had to stay on the plane."
Etihad, a national airline of the United Arab Emirates, which includes Abu Dhabi, said in a statement on its website that fog had delayed flights and caused airport congestion.
The airline apologized for travelers' inconvenience but said the delays were beyond its control.
Etihad spokespeople did not immediately respond to an after-hours request from The Associated Press for passengers' complaints about conditions onboard during the wait on the tarmac.