Passengers onboard a Spirit Airlines flight claim they were stuck on the tarmac in Florida for seven hours because a pilot never showed up to fly the plane.
Flight 1736 was due to take off from Fort Lauderdale on the afternoon of Aug. 15, and was headed to Richmond, Va., a flight that typically takes around 2.5 hours.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Spirit Airlines said the flight returned to the gate “due to air traffic control-imposed delays and weather conditions. Once at the gate, our Guests were offered access to the terminal. Despite our best efforts, the continued ATC and weather delays affected our abilities to reschedule, and we later canceled the flight.”
However, passengers onboard claim the pilot never showed up.
The travelers used their digital devices to document their experience with the budget airline carrier, uploading the clips to social media.
“So we have 200 passengers on this flight right now. Everyone’s luggage is down there,” Lindsey Mascera said in her TikTok clip posted the same day, as she filmed her fellow travelers in their seats. “How long have you been waiting?” she asked another passenger. “Seven hours,” the woman responded.
“So [Spirit Airlines representatives] told us it was going to be 30 minutes, and we’re all still on this flight at 10:44,” she continued. “It’s almost 11 p.m. and we’ve been here since 3 [p.m.].”
“We got delayed and now we’re back and there’s no pilots to be found and there’s no answer,” Mascera said.
In a separate clip obtained by Inside Edition, a flight attendant was filmed informing passengers via Flight 1736’s intercom that “we are not allowed to deplane even though you’ve been here already for over an hour.”
“People gotta make other plans. Make y’all f—— mind up,” one passenger responded, appearing agitated at the situation.
“You’re absolutely right,” the flight attendant answered. “I have no arguments with what all of you think and your frustrations.”
“Our Guests were offered the option to rebook on the next available Spirit flight or request a refund,” their statement concluded. “We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Flight delays have been increasing in frequency over the past few years. Data from the real-time flight tracker website FlightAware reveals an average of 5,000 to 6,000 delayed flights per day in the U.S.
This isn’t just a Spirit issue (although you get what you pay for), pilots across all airlines are fed up with not being paid enough. If you plan to fly for the holidays, make sure you give yourself at least two-three days to arrive before any important events you need to be in town for.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you!