Passengers aboard a military charter plane are happy to be heading home.
They spent the night in Bangor after the Delta flight was grounded at BIA.
Joy Hollowell tells us what happened.
“A lot of us are a little frustrated,” says Master Sgt. Kelly McCargo with the 1st Army Division. “We’ve been in the air for 36 hours, we land and there’s some confusion going down.”
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, that confusion stemmed from some passengers on board the military charter flight not being able to show their necessary paperwork. The Delta flight held 102 military troops as well as 112 military contractors.
“We arrived here and they let the military off the airplane,” says Justin Baty, a military contractor. “And then we really didn’t understand what was happening. They just said we were going to stay on the airplane for awhile. Awhile turned into 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours.”
Customs officers says during the inspection process, they discovered some of the military contractors couldn’t show documentation for their military gear. Agents were told the papers were in their checked luggage. At that point, CBP says baggage handlers were instructed to unload those bags. The contractors were then let off in groups of five with the flight crew remaining on board until all passengers were off. Shortly before Midnight, Delta pushed the flight back by 12 hours due to what was going on as well as crew time.
Baty says some passengers weren’t able to exit the plane until 8 or 9 hours later. “It just seemed to me that the CBP didn’t want to fix the problem and get us out of here,” he says. “I’ve been doing this since 2006, never seen anything like this, never.”
BIA Director Tony Caruso says they worked with Delta to provide hotels and meals for the troops as well as the contractors and crew once they were allowed to leave. “Well obviously it’s a military flight so they’re a regularity here at the airport,” says Caruso. “We always treat them with as much respect as certainly they deserve. But we also have to certainly remember that there are customs requirements that are involved as well.”
CBP says selected baggage was x-rayed and some equipment was held until further documentation could be provided. They add the entire process was completed at 2:30 a.m.
“We did get to see the Super Bowl,” says Master Sgt. McCargo. “We didn’t expect to see that because we thought we were going to be in mid-flight for that.”
School buses returned passengers to BIA in the morning for the final leg of their trip. They’re hoping to be back home by Wednesday.
“Just keep a good attitude and good morale,” says 1st Lt. Engineer Ross Soares. “Everybody is safe and everybody is here with all their body parts so that’s a good thing.”
According to BIA, the flight left Bangor a little after 3 Monday afternoon.