Flight cancellations due to weather are a pain for any traveler. But things got extremely complicated when a group of just under 100 people — including 67 teenagers — found themselves stranded.
It was even harder when their destination didn’t have many flying options to begin with.
But American Airlines came to the rescue.
“We slept on the floor last night,” chaperone Barbra West told KXAS, the NBC affiliate in Dallas.
There was no possibility of the entire group getting on another flight. They would need to split up over several days, with some having to wait 5 days in Texas before getting on an available flight home.
Adding to the troubles was a lack of any hotel space due to the size of the group.
“How are we gonna keep them warm at night?” West said. “Because it was kinda cold in the terminal. How are we going to feed 67 teenagers for 5 days?”
That’s when American Airlines stepped in.
In an extremely rare move, the airline told the group it was chartering a plane just for them.
“The winter storm has had a significant impact on our operation, especially in Dallas-Fort Worth,” the airline said in a statement. “Throughout it all, our team has worked tirelessly to safely care for our customers, including going above and beyond to transport the group of students home after their travel was affected by the storm.
“We are proud of our team’s extraordinary effort — from our colleagues who coordinated logistics to our crew members and airport teams who took special care of our customers.”
After the initial night sleeping in the terminal, the group found themselves on the charter the next day.
“This is a fabulous learning experience,” West said. “There are no guarantees in life, and you just have to stay calm, try to address the situation, and make the best of it, and look for the silver lining. I think they’d push the plane if they could, they all wanted to get home so bad.”
As for Disney World, West said the group has nothing but great memories.
“Disney was amazing,” West said. “Half of our kids have never flown before. Some of them have never been out of Montana before, and their eyes were popping out of their head the whole time.”