(HOUSTON) — An unruly passenger aboard a Spirit Airlines red eye flight from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale over the weekend forced the pilot to make an emergency landing in Texas, which then led to an over 12-hour layover for approximately 100 on board.
Spirit Airlines Airbus A319 from Los Angeles Xavier departed on time at 9:58 p.m. PT Saturday, with a scheduled landing at Hollywood International (FLL) at 6 a.m. Sunday. However midway through the flight, a disruptive passenger forced the pilot to make an emergency landing at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport, where the roughly 100 passengers would remain for most of the next day, ABC News affiliate KTRK reported.
The unruly passenger, an 81-year-old man who is blind, was kicking and screaming, those on board told ABC News’ Ft. Lauderdale affiliate Local 10 News.
Passengers were reportedly kept in the plane on the tarmac for several hours before being allowed into the terminal. The airline then told the waylaid passengers that they would now be shuttled by bus five hours north to Dallas, because Spirit does not operate a flight between Houston and Ft. Lauderdale.
Passengers then became irate, yelling and screaming at airline staff.
“It was terrible. It was unreal. It was painful,” passenger Theresa Shaviano told Local 10.
Spirit Airlines eventually decided to fly the passengers in a different plane, and the flight arrived in South Florida about 8 p.m. Sunday — 12 full hours after the scheduled arrival time.
The airline said time constraints with the crew prevented the original plane from taking off from Houston.
“We understand that this has been an inconvenience for our customers, but the safety of our customers is always the top priority. All customers are being given full refunds for this inconvenience,” the airline said in a statement.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ian Kerner, CNN
Eli Watkins, CNN
Selena Larson and Samuel Burke, CNN
Ivaylo Vezenkov and Lauren del Valle, CNN