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Hotels offered rooms for diverted American Airlines passengers

Uncomfortable night: passengers had to sleep on terminal floors during their 19-hour stay at the airport (Photograph supplied)

More than 300 American Airlines passengers stranded overnight at the airport could have been put up in hotels — but the airline decided against the move.

The Royal Gazettereported yesterday that the London-bound flight from Miami was forced to divert to Bermuda just after midnight on Monday after developing suspected mechanical problems.

Travellers then spent an uncomfortable 19 hours at LF Wade International Airport, with many complaining of freezing conditions at the facility and a lack of food. They were eventually able to leave Bermuda and continue the journey to London at 8pm on Monday on a replacement aircraft.

The diversion made news around the world, with news websites reporting how the passengers had been “abandoned” in Bermuda.

The flight’s crew were put up for the night at the Grotto Bay Beach resort. But a spokeswoman for the airline declined to say why passengers were left “abandoned” at the terminal for almost 24 hours.

According to Stephen Todd, the president of the Bermuda Hotel Association, American Airlines representatives did contact two resorts and were told that beds were available — but they failed to make any bookings.

Mr Todd said: “They did try to reach out to a few of our hotels — Grotto Bay and the Hamilton Princess — but because of our occupancy levels, the passengers wouldn’t have been able to be accommodated in a single hotel.

“They didn’t get back to us. There was no follow-up. It was the airline’s call and I guess in the end they didn’t make that call.”

Mr Todd said that one hotel supplied the travellers with 140 towels in an effort to help.

“Our member hotels were willing and able to do all they could on this occasion,” he said.

“We stepped up to do all we could and show a level of support.”

Mr Todd suggested that a contingency plan needed to be devised to handle emergency mass arrivals in the future.

He said: “What we’ve done in the past — and it doesn’t happen very often — is we’ve utilised several properties, so that, at the end of the day, all the passengers are accommodated. That didn’t happen this time. American never made the call.

“I think we all need to come together — the hotels, Skyport, the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the airlines, all industry stakeholders — and devise a plan to deal with this situation in the future. I know that hotels would be willing to offer special rates in the case of emergency.”

Mr Todd also scotched some media reports that passengers were forced to remain at the airport because of Covid-19 public safety regulations

This newspaper yesterday e-mailed several questions to the media office of American Airlines and asked specifically why passengers were not given hotel accommodation for the night.

In response, a spokeswoman said: for “American Airlines flight 38, from Miami to London, diverted to Bermuda on August 29 after a possible mechanical issue. The aircraft landed safely at 12.40am local time and taxied to the gate.

“Customers continued to LHR on August 29 at 8pm local time on a replacement aircraft.

“We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans, and we apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

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Published August 31, 2022 at 9:53 am (Updated August 31, 2022 at 9:53 am)

Hotels offered rooms for diverted American Airlines passengers

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