Airline passengers forced to endure 77-hour trip

Time flies when you're having fun, which is why flight delays are so boring. Once you're soaring across the sky, it's still not fun, but at least things should pretty much run like clockwork. Unfortunately, even if your clock works it doesn't mean your plane will. In November 2018 passengers of British Airways Flight 2036 learned that the infuriating way when a parade of complications turned what should have been an eight-hour flight into 77 hours of stop-and-go hell.

The trouble started in Florida, the home of Disney World, unbridled weirdness, and controversial elections. On an incredibly vexing Thursday evening more than 200 people hopped on a plane slated to take them from Orlando to London. Simple enough, right? Well, that plan took a nosedive when "a technical fault" forced passengers to sit on their unmoving aircraft for four hours, per the BBC. Once it became clear that persistence was futile, the passengers had to spend the night in hotel rooms or in a bar where they could drink away their sorrows, perhaps with the pilot. The next day brought more frustration as the coach that was transporting passengers to the airport was reportedly delayed twice.

More than 24 hours after its original departure time, the plane finally got off the ground. But just as things seemed like they were headed in the right direction, they immediately went south. Or rather, they went north because the plane had to be diverted to New York after hitting another mechanical snag. This happened 40 minutes into the trip, meaning customers waited over a day to fly for an hour and a half. Even worse, it was an incredibly bumpy ride. As one passenger recalled, "Children were having panic attacks, the turbulence was awful, and people were scared, tired, and hungry."

In New York the situation went from frustrating to rage-inducing. British Airways employees didn't arrive until the next morning, and the marooned, hungry passengers wouldn't receive food or water in the meantime. Plus, due to the New York Marathon, it was incredibly difficult to book a hotel. A lucky few managed to find lodgings, but a bunch of people –- some of them children –- had to tough it out at JFK Airport. If ever you've had the pleasure of trying to sleep on the floor at JFK, you know it's about as fun as being vigorously kicked around by grumpy donkeys.

The misery finally ended on the third day when an actually functioning plane arrived at JFK to take the passengers home. A British Airways representative told Business Insider, "We appreciate that this was an exhausting and frustrating experience for our customers, and we have apologized for the long delay to their flight." That's nice!

Understandably, not all the customers appreciated the apology. Ticked-off traveler Sarah Wilson said British Airways turned her "dream" trip to Disney World into a nightmare, which is pretty impressive considering that Disney harbors a creepy talking mouse. Passenger Ceri Todd wasn't ready to completely break up with British Airways, but she certainly wanted a break: "I think they fell down on duty of care for passengers. There was no leadership. It will be a long time before I go back to them."

What makes BA's debacle especially egregious is that it isn't even the first time in recent years that the airline has given passengers massive headaches. In September it was discovered that hackers stole the credit card info of 380,000 BA customers. And about a week before the November flight that refused to end, the company revealed that 185,000 more people's private data had been poached by cyber crooks. Back in May 2017 a BA engineer made the seemingly tiny mistake of unplugging the company's data system and wreaked absolute havoc on people's travel plans. That time passengers were also stranded for days and unable to access their baggage.

We're not sure whether British Airways just had a ridiculously unlucky year, absurdly incompetent employees, or if the two problems got married and made the world's least lovable lovechild together. But if multi-day flight delays become a time-honored tradition, the company could risk unseating United Airlines as the most reviled air carrier in the not-so-friendly skies.