Weather and pilot shortage strands 120 Tampa passengers in NYC

Passengers exhausted after 12 hour delay

TAMPA, Fla. - One hundred twenty tired and cranky passengers stumbled into the terminal at Tampa International Airport Monday morning after an overnight ordeal.

Bad luck, bad timing and what some say was bad customer service led to a perfect storm of inconvenience.

Lynn Merhige was waiting for a friend who was supposed to land in Tampa 12 hours earlier.  In her last phone conversation, her friend told her, "We still have our B.U.T.T.'s in J.F.K."

The delay in New York, blamed initially on weather, then on lack of available pilots, was so bad, one passenger texted ABC Action News a picture of a crowded Delta ticket counter with the message, "there's nothing anyone can do!  Help!"

Because Delta kept pushing back promised take-off times all the way to 3:30 a.m., passengers had no choice but to sleep in the terminal.

"They did nothing.  They gave us a couple of blankets and that was it.  We slept on the floor for about three hours," said Chris Casella.

"If they had told us up front what our options were, we would have gotten a hotel.  We would have gone into town and seen a show or something," complained Lori Clapp.

Some passengers whose trip started overseas had epic journeys.

Karim Schiadma and his family left Morroco on Saturday afternoon and touched down in Tampa late Monday morning.

"They didn't handle it well," said Schiadma.

A Delta spokesman said weather delays are common and unavoidable.  And because the flight was never canceled, passengers will probably not get compensation.

The Department of Transportation's recently enacted passenger' bill of rights' applies more to flyers who have already boarded a plane and are stuck on the tarmac. 

But some of the passengers we talked with Monday missed a day of work because of the delay and believe they should be compensated.

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