Due to Abu Dhabu airport being fogbound – apparently a rare event – Etihad Airlines Flight 183 was stuck on the tarmac for 12 hours. Since all other flights were delayed or cancelled, it meant there was no space for the plane to return to the terminal. When the passengers arrived in SFA, many complained to the media that they had been on board for 28 hours in total.
As it occured outside the US, DOT rules about limiting tarmac wait to 4 hours did not apply.
A commentator,Tom Yates,on CBS San Francisco adds the best insight into the situation.
Yeah, we were in that plane. We boarded then the fog was too thick to fly. They would not deplane us because the special security waiting area was full with people trying to board to go to NY. The real issue was off the plane. The special area after USA screening is small and did not have room for us to go back in. It is a result of US security demands. This was not an ordeal but rather an inconvenience caused by post 911 security.
We has some laughs and fun over it as we knew that we could do nothing. There was enough food. This issue was that some would have liked special treatment such as more food. Instead we received less and then most of the food spoiled. The flight crew also expired so we received more food at about the same time that the new flight crew showed up. The only real problem is that at the very end of the flight we ran out of water. all but one bathroom was closed. None of the had tissues but there were plenty of napkins and hand towels. So we used hand towels but were unable to wash our hands as the water was gone. The flight crew handled it well even though groups of men kept gathering around our seats (ROW 50), meeting and making demands. The crew was calm in dealing with them. One person from the original flight crew even made her personal mobile phone data plan available to defuse the anger of my new friend and seat mate.
So it sounds like there was not a lot Ethiad could do about it. Sometimes stuff in life happens.