Passengers who were travelling on aDelta flight to New York were diverted and taken to a Portuguese island instead, where they were allegedly stuck for as many as 12 hours in a secluded part of the airport. They claimed they had to beg for food, and accussumaed airline representatives of telling them not to start “a revolution.”
“About 5 hours into our trip across the Atlantic Ocean, the pilot made an unexpected, sharp right turn and announced that the plane was being diverted due to a mechanical issue,” passenger Nana Asante-Smith wrote on Facebook. “Groups of flight attendants scurried to the front. The inflight entertainment system’s route changed and our destination was no longer JFK, but rather Terceira. Terceira Island, Portugal. One flight attendant told one of our guests that we were being diverted because someone was very ill on the plane.”
Nana added, “Dissatisfied with the lack of communication (I understand the need to keep passengers calm), I walked to the back of the plane twice to ask the flight attendants what was really going on. They were kind and gentle, especially in the midst of my brewing anxiety attack. They reassured me that everything was just fine and that the oxygen was low in the cockpit. Nerve wrecking, but fine, because life happens and the unfortunate situation was not in Delta’s control.”
‘Reckless disregard for human life and well-being’
Nana claimed that after they landed on Terceira Island, she realised how there was a “reckless disregard for human life and well-being.” The passengers stepped out of the plane, and were subsequently taken to shuttle buses that took them to the airport.
“We were directed to a partitioned section of the building without access to freely move around the airport because those with Ghanaian passports did not have the requisite visas. The crew members were shuttled to a hotel, not to be seen again. From that point, we never heard from or saw a Delta representative in any official capacity. We only interacted with representatives for the airport at Lajes Airport/Base,” Nana explained.
When the passengers spoke to the airport representatives, they were told they would be given food to eat at around 11 am or 12 pm. However, an airport representative later said Delta had decided that no food would be given as the passengers had eaten in advance.
“In response to this befuddling update, a gentlemen asked about complimentary water bottles. One of the airport representatives, a woman wearing a white shirt and wearing glasses, told the gentleman that we could drink water from the bathroom faucets. After some time and complaints, a small cafe in the corner opened and people were able to purchase food if they had a credit card. A little while later, after begging and pleading, we received paper bags with ham sandwiches (that many could not eat due to dietary restrictions associated with pork), juice boxes and cookies/crackers,” wrote Nana.
She added, “till, no official announcements or updates from Delta as passengers scrambled to rebook connecting flights, request clarity about the situation we found ourselves in, etc. People -the elderly, pregnant women, children- became restless, frustrated, and confused. A child vomited. There were not enough seats for passengers, so many sat or laid on the hard floor. Uncomfortable does not properly described the hard, steel-like chairs. In response, the aforementioned airport representative admonished us to not start “a revolution” and to “be grateful for a second chance at life.” Grateful for a second chance at life.”
‘Treated like encroaching roaches’
Nana claimed that they were “treated like encroaching roaches.” “Around 3:49pm, thanks to third party information in the midst of Delta’s deafening silence and absence, and over 9 hours after landing on Terceira Island, we were informed that our plane had still not left Lisbon. After over 12+ hours in the airport’s enclosed partition, we departed Terceira Island. We were told that our luggage would not leave Terceira Island with us. It was also then that we learned from one of the flight attendants about what really happened on our first flight: that oxygen was dangerously compromised for the entire plane, not just the cockpit,” she wrote.
Nana said people who contacted Delta representatives were given inaccurate information, and lackadaisical “solutions”.” “In some instances, some of us received template responses referencing a “rescue ship”. We were also assured that while Delta could not assist virtually or telephonically with hotels or food vouchers, “Red Agents” at JFK would assist us with such requests, consistent with airline policy. Fake News,” she wrote.
“Upon arrival at JFK, we were met with lamentations about the airline being overwhelmed and fruitless reminders to save receipts for reimbursement. Our group spent hours trying to find hotels – some resorted to just sleeping at the airport. Others rented a car drive from JFK to Chicago because no flights were available until Monday. A few hopped on 2:30am train to Maryland. We were (and are) physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted,” she wrote, adding, “Delta’s conscious decision to desert and disregard us in a time of such anxiety, confusion, fear, and exhaustion is inconceivable and deplorable. Their shameless attempt to also rewrite history will not stand”.
‘We almost landed on the ocean’
Ghanaian rapper Sakordie, who was on the plane, also described in experience, writing on X, “So I missed my event in Detroit due to @Delta doing an emergency landing on an island in Portugal yesterday. It was unfortunate but I know these things happen so I wasn’t trippin even though they communicated poorly and didn’t have the courtesy to update us on exactly what was happening… sat at the airport for about 6 hours and from complains from passengers, this isn’t new with that airline especially from this part of the world ( Africa ) they keep sending these weak old flights ( business class almost same as economy ) to pick us up knowing very well they are not safe but still risk lives .”
“We almost landed on the ocean but thank God we touched that island safe . No compensation nothing and our bags still on the island. Moving forward I wouldn’t want to tarnish a business but hopefully they see to this problem and resolve it … and to my fans in Detroit I’m very sorry and we working on making it up to you,” he added.