Passengers On "Nightmare" Flight Speak Out

10:15 AM, Oct 21, 2011   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. - Some Western New Yorkers are calling it a nightmare flight after traveling from Lakeland, Florida to Niagara Falls last weekend.

2 On Your Side spoke with six of the 120 or so on board a Direct Air flight from Lakeland, Florida to Niagara Falls Saturday morning. They say about an hour into it they noticed a change in the cabin.

"Everybody started having issues on the plane, passing out, chest pains, had anxiety attacks," said Robert Villani, a passenger.

Villani thought he was having a heart attack when the captain came on the loudspeaker and said they were heading back to Florida because they were having air pressure problems. But none of the oxygen masks would release.

So they landed back in Florida and after two or three hours later boarded the same plane again.

"Twenty minutes into the flight, pilot comes on and says he's turning back around, we have air pressure problems again," said Villani.

Peter Lotz passed out during both flights. He said when he came to on that second flight, it seemed like a nightmare.

"The gentleman next to me had an eight month old baby and he was passed out and when they woke up everybody was crying, the children were crying maybe with earaches and headaches and stuff like that," said Lotz.

EMT's met the passengers at the gate when they arrived back in Florida for the second time. Villani was even taken to the hospital to be sure he was ok.

About six hours later everybody boarded a new plane and arrived in Niagara Falls safely with few answers from Direct Air.

"I want them to say what happened," said Patricia Villani, a passenger. "I want to know why those air masks did not fall when passengers have already fainted."

A spokesman for Direct Air says the air pressure issue was fixed after the first flight had to be grounded.

Reporter: "But if the problem was fixed after the first time, why did the indicator light go on again and there was the same problem when you were in the air the second time?"

Ed Warneck, Direct Air spokesman: "I can't answer that truthfully. We're not the airline we lease our lane, charter our planes."

Reporter: "But to be fair though, your name is on the ticket, shouldn't you take responsibility?"

Warneck: "We can't take responsibility for the aircraft, we charter the plane."

Passengers want better answers. But right now, they're just glad they're back on the ground.

"Are you thinking about flying with them again?" 2 On Your Side's Josh Boose asked Robert Villani.

"No, I'm not," he said.

Direct Air says they lease the plane and crew from Sky King. 2 On Your Side called and emailed them all night, but have not heard back as of this web posting.

Direct Air says it is still in the process of gathering information about what happened and that after any issue they "always compensate our customers in some way".

The passengers we spoke with say so far,  say all they received was a ten dollar meal voucher to use in the airport. At least two of the passengers have filed complaints with the F.A.A.

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