London To Dallas Flight Diverts… Twice…

Filed Under: American

I flew with American out of London yesterday, and it looks like I chose the right flight.


American 51 from London to Dallas was scheduled to depart London at 11:15AM and arrive in Dallas at 3:45PM. Well, that didn’t happen.

Apparently there was a medical emergency which caused the flight to divert to Iceland. Per


At that point the crew wasn’t legal to fly all the way to Dallas, so they instead flew to New York:


And then a new crew took over for the New York to Dallas flight… over five hours later:


I’m guessing the five hour delay in New York was caused by issues of some passengers wanting to deplane, which probably became a mess in terms of baggage, customs/immigration, etc. I’d actually be surprised if a majority of people continued to Dallas, but rather I’d bet they just rebooked most peoples’ connections directly out of New York.

Ouch! This is obviously one of those really tough situations. I’m sure there were a lot of angry passengers, though American presumably did everything in their power to operate the flight on schedule, and if anything they took the biggest loss on the diversion. But unfortunately I’m sure that still won’t prevent people from taking it out on the airline, given how massively they were inconvenienced. Arriving at your destination over 12 hours late due to a medical diversion is rough.

All that being said, in a totally non-grim kind of way, am I the only one that has always kind of hoped for a diversion to Iceland in the back of my mind? On one hand I really don’t want one since the implications aren’t positive (they’re not diverting for fun, but rather for medical or mechanical reasons), but that hasn’t stopped me from thinking it would be kind of cool… in theory.

Final approach into Reykjavik Airport

I hope whoever they diverted for is okay!

Was anyone on AA51 yesterday that can share a firsthand report?

  1. I was not aa55 but I was on aa2319 that was delayed 7 hours yesterday! I was on a md 80 crap jet and unexpectedly the starter motor was broken when we were about to take off. Originally it was only going to be a hour fix but then it became two hours so they let us guy of the plane maybe grab something to eat and then got right back on. Although about 30 minutes after that they just told everyone to get off and wait in the terminal instead. I kept checking the aa app and the estimated departure was just going back and back. Eventually after about 5 hours we were given a new plane on the other side of the airport. thankfully, dallas has their skylink unlike my home airport o’hare. So everyone waiting hopped on the train to another concourse. When we got there it said about another 45 minutes so we waited. Then everyone boarded and we taxied and got to the runway. This was 6 hours after the scheduled take off time. Although it was not over, for some reason as forgot to check the weight and balance of our aircraft and sure enough it was overweight. So we had to drive around the airport so we could burn off some fuel. Eventually we got back to the runway and this was 7 hours after our scheduled departure time. Although this time we actually took off and everyone clapped. We got into o’hare at around 12:10 instead of around 6:00

  2. Are the dallas flights oprated by 777-200 or 777-300 because says 777 not 77w? Also when an American airlines flight is listed at 32b and the destination is not New York or LA for example MIA-DEN does that mean that it has the 3 cabin configuration or is the plane in the same configuration as the a319 or is it a US airways operated flight?

  3. @ Ted — This flight was a 777-200, which is the plane most Dallas frequencies are operated by. The 32B is the domestic and higher density version of the plane, so it’s not the A321T.

  4. I would expect that AA will proactively reach out to the passengers on the flight with a token gesture of compensation for the inconvenience, likely in the form of miles. A few weeks ago I was on an AA flight that had to return to the airport right after takeoff due to a burning smell in the cabin. After waiting for them to find an alternate plane (I was at BOS, so a non-hub), we eventually arrived at our destination 4 hours late, which relative to this, wasn’t bad at all. Nonetheless, a few days later AA sent me an e-mail thanking me for the understanding re the delay and inconvenience, and deposited a few thousand miles into my account. It was certainly above and beyond what I had expected.

  5. We were on AA1251 DFW – MCI which was delayed a bit. We showed up to the gate about 25mins before boarding to meet the crew and 10 other passengers. Thought it was going to be a super light Saturday night flight. Then about 5 mins of sitting there 100 Highschool kids come up in 1 giant group. Apparently the Shawnee Mission West marching band was on AA51 and walked up just in time to make their connection.

    We heard there was 4 medicals that had to be taken off the plane.

  6. My friend was on that flight – here was his post about it:

    A lengthy post to follow on how our LHR-DFW flight became a “local” service with multiple midpoint stops! I didn’t at all mind the initial illness diversion. Safety/health first and I hope he’s ok – looked like pretty severe abdominal distress. And of course we had to refuel in Reykjavik. But there have been some missteps. Because they did not think to offload the checked bags of the deplaned family until after refueling was complete, we were on the ground for an additional two hours (including the de-icing that had to occur as a result of the extra time on the ground.) So that’s three-plus hours on the ground in Iceland, much of it seemingly avoidable. This entire series of Iceland events made our flight crew ineligible to reach DFW because of length-of-duty restrictions. Hence, our current JFK stop, which is at 2.5 hours and counting. Delays here have been numerous, but the most annoying was AA failing to let TSA know that a horde of tired travelers would be coming back through security with LHR boarding passes (we all–quite understandably–had to deplane, retrieve bags, clear customs, re-check bags & reenter security). At this point, looks like we’ll take off around midnight and arrive at DFW after 3 AM. Again, stuff happens, but a good chunk of this sure did seem avoidable. Oh, and the back breaker – all pillows and blankets were “cleaned” off the plane at JFK, so it’s coats and scarves for sleeping to DFW!

  7. @Mike’s comments suggest some pretty avoidable screw ups on the part of AA staff at both airports! What is it about American airlines in general with IROPS? Are staff not allowed to make common sense decisions? Where is the coordination?

  8. @ Stephan — In fairness, diversions to an airport you don’t have service to are REALLY tricky, especially when you’re on a type of plane that doesn’t usually fly to that airport. So while it would have been nice if they had been more efficient and it sounds like it could have been handled better, this isn’t as straightforward as loading and unloading bags at an airport they fly to.

  9. Are they even allowed to refuel with the luggage or cabin doors open? I thought that for safety reasons, the fuselage had to be closed while refueling.

  10. I had a similar situation on the UA 153 STR-EWR about a year ago. United used to offer a non stop service from Stuttgart to Newark with a Boeing 757-200. When we were about two hours from New York, it was announced that the plane had to land in Bangor, Maine to refuel the plane as we couldn’t reach EWR with the fuel left. Once landed in Maine, they refueled the plane and before takeoff there apparently was also a mechanical problem. It took them about another 3 hours, we were stuck there in total for 4 hours. Got to EWR plenty late and it was a hassle to be rebooked for a connecting flight to LAX. I still wonder how it could happen that a plane had to land because of low fuel on a route which they offered 5 or 6 times a week. Happened a couple of times on that service according a fellow passengers and it seems like it those kinda incidents could and should be avoidable.

  11. @ Lucky — your blame on “some passengers wanting to deplane” and getting their baggage seems misfounded. All pax had to do customs and immigration at JFK so everyone got their baggage automatically.

    The delay was 4:21, or from 20:51 to 01:12, not five hours. The same aircraft (N783AN) operated JFK-DFW.

    This was an off-schedule operation involving USCIS, who is never efficient.

  12. I’ve been on a double diversion before, TLV–JFK on a TWA 747 in the late 90’s diverted to SNN due to strong headwinds (fuel issue), then circled JFK for an hour and finally diverted to EWR due to fog. Didn’t let anyone off at EWR, instead we sat on the ground for 1:30 hours, then flew to JFK. Which was annoying, because after all these delays I had to trek across the city and past Newark to my final destination in New Jersey.

  13. @Lucky,

    Slightly off-topic, but still related. If you don’t mind, was this a paid ticket or an award redemption? Also, which class of service? I have been unable to find seats on this flight without using some God-awful sum of miles. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *