Abu Dhabi airport was closed on Saturday due to fog that prevented airplanes taking off and landing.
Apparently, Etihad is not prepared for irregular operations as it held passengers hostage inside airplanes for more than 12 hours preventing them leaving.
Here’s an excerpt from The Guardian:
Hundreds of passengers landed in San Francisco, safe but irritated after a 28-hour overseas flight they say included 12 hours on a tarmac in the Middle East without food or accurate flight information.
Tempers grew short on Etihad Airlines Flight 183 when fog in the city of Abu Dhabi delayed takeoff for a half-day, passengers told San Francisco broadcaster KGO.
“They kept telling us that we were going to leave, you know 15 minutes from now, 20 minutes from now, 30 minutes for now, for 12 hours,” passenger Thomas Piani told reporters in San Francisco after finally landing in the city on Saturday evening.
Passengers said the flight crew told them the Abu Dhabi airport was too crowded with other stranded flights to allow them to get off the plane to wait.
I have said it previously and will say it again. All these Middle Eastern airlines are very good once in the air, but god help you if there are any problems, as you are completely on your own. There is practically ZERO customer service or common sense (probably due to how management treats all these foreign workers working for the airlines).
Unfortunately, DOT doesn’t have saying over how the US destined passengers are treated at overseas ports. The correct procedure would have been to arrange them hotels and bus them back to the airport once the fog had cleared and planes could take off again.