Passengers aboard a Delta flight bound for New York were diverted to a Portuguese island where they say they were trapped in a secluded part of the airport for 12 hours and had to beg for food, while airline representatives warned them that They will not start “a revolution.” “
Flight 157 was carrying 200 people from Ghana to New York on Friday when it experienced a “mechanical issue with a backup oxygen system” and diverted to Lajes airport, a Delta spokesperson told the Post.
“Delta abandoned us and Terceira Islands airport representatives treated us like invasive cockroaches,” passenger Nana Asante-Smith wrote on Facebook, saying they had a “reckless disregard for human life and well-being.”
At the airport, Asante-Smith said, passengers were taken to a “divided section” because Ghanaian citizens did not have the necessary visas to enter Portugal.
She told Business Insider that they arrived around 6 a.m., but the crew were soon taken to a hotel, while passengers were told to stay and contact Delta for more information.
“We were trying to contact Delta during this time and determine what exactly was going on, to no avail,” said Asante-Smith, who was in Ghana with family and friends to celebrate her marriage.
More than 200 passengers aboard a Delta Air Lines flight from Ghana to New York were forced to wait 12 hours at an airport on a Portuguese island. Facebook / Nana Asante-Smith
Delta Flight 157 diverted to the Terceira Islands after experiencing a problem with its backup oxygen system.Flightaware
He said airport representatives told them they would be given a meal and that a plane from Boston would arrive in several hours to pick them up.
But around 11:30 a.m., he wrote on Facebook, “we learned that we would no longer be fed because, according to an airport representative, Delta had informed them that we had already eaten before our landing, a little before 6 a.m. .
“We had no other access to food.”
Asante-Smith said she and her fellow travelers were “baffled” by the response, and one elderly man asked a representative if he could get a bottle of water.
A video posted online showed an airport employee telling passengers they should be grateful the plane didn’t crash. Twitter / @KiaundraSmith
In response, he was told that he and the other passengers could simply drink water from the bathroom faucets, Asante-Smith claimed, but none of them had cups and only a few had water bottles.
After a while, he said, a small cafe opened on the corner, allowing those with credit cards to buy some food.
Soon after, after more “begging and pleading,” they were given ham sandwiches, juice boxes and crackers, Asante-Smith said.
“Which is interesting, because anyone who is intimately familiar with West Africa or our Muslim brothers and sisters knows that many people have dietary restrictions on eating pork,” he told Insider.
One passenger wrote online that “the elderly, pregnant women and children were feeling restless, frustrated and confused.” Facebook / Nana Asante-Smith
He said they did not receive clear communication from Delta Air Lines about what they could expect. Facebook / Nana Asante-Smith
Meanwhile, he said, passengers were left searching for information.
He said some members of his travel party received messages from Delta airline representatives that seemed copied and pasted, while others were told that a rescue plane was approaching.
“Many of us were anxiously looking out the window to see if a Delta plane was landing,” he said.
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While they waited, Asante-Smith described on Facebook how some people, “the elderly, pregnant women and children, felt uneasy, frustrated and confused.”
And when they asked airport staff for more information, a woman told them they shouldn’t “start a revolution” and should be “grateful for a second chance at life.” according to a video posted online by Kiaundra Eggleston.
“This representative told us that we should be grateful that we were allowed to be here and that our plane did not crash into the sea,” he tweeted.
Finally, around 6 pm, a flight finally arrived at Lajes Airport and brought them to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Passengers, many of whom were still frustrated, tried to take their complaints to Delta representatives in New York, Asante-Smith said, but were told the airline was overwhelmed.
“It was unfortunate but I know these things happen so I wasn’t tripping even though they miscommunicated and didn’t have the courtesy to inform us exactly what was happening,” he wrote.
“This is not new with this airline, especially from this part of the world (Africa), they keep sending these old weak flights (business class almost the same as economy) to pick us up knowing full well that they are not safe, but still risking lives,” he added.
An airline spokesperson told the Post that passengers’ tickets would be refunded.Shutterstock
In a statement, a Delta spokesperson said the 215 passengers were fed and waited nearly 12 hours for another plane to arrive from Lisbon.
The spokesperson also said that the passengers’ suitcases were sent on their original plane to JFK, as the second plane only had an hour to land in Terceira.
When asked by Business Insider about claims that Delta staff in New York were overwhelmed, the spokesperson pointed to poor weather conditions on the East Coast, which he said caused the airline’s staff to be overwhelmed with requests. .
He added that customers were provided refunds.
The Post also contacted Delta Air Lines for comment.
Asante-Smith, however, said that while she received a $400 voucher and an email about a full ticket refund, she has not yet received the money.
He added that as of Monday morning he had still not received his suitcases.