Diverted flight question


LAst night, my family and I were on DL 256 from POP to ATL. Due to weather in ATL, we were diverted to AGS (Augusta GA). Our crew was a lot unhappier than the passengers. We were cleared to land at ATL and diverted after we’d used up all of our fuel apparently. I had selfishly hoped to be diverted to RDU (my home airport).

Anyway…we landed and I started thinking about hotels in Augusta and renting a car for this morning. Until the captain gave us the bad news.

1: AGS didn’t have a jetway or stairs to reach a 757.
2: They didn’t have immigration or customs services
3: The crew had to “get out pencils and paper” to determine if they had enough “flight time” left in the day to take us to ATL.

It turns out they did and after about 90 minutes in AGS, we hopped to ATL.

My question is “What if they didn’t have time left?”

What would they have done with us? If the airport didn’t have a means to deplane us, what would they do? Exit chutes/slides? Could an immigration officer drive over from ATL and clear us? Is that allowed?

Would they have forced us to stay on the plane?

Fortunately, it all worked out and us passengers all took it much better than the crew. We got home at 2:20 this morning (without our bags mind you), so it all worked.

I’m just wondering what could have happened. What does one do with a plane that has no gas and no crew when it’s sitting at an airport that can’t accept it both from a physical standpoint and a no customs standpoint?



If the crew was timed out, Delta would have to send another crew to Agusta (or wait it out, letting the crew sleep onboard if the union contract allows that). The crew may be able to board by a ladder or similar, but they wouldn’t want all the passengers to deplane like that (oh the liability).

I’m surprised you didn’t have bags when you arrived home; I’d expect Atlanta to have baggage handlers available at 2am.


I find it hard to believe Augusta GA doesn’t have stairs to reach a 757.


Here at SPI we’re a major diversion city for STL. Back in the TWA days, on a Spring pop up T-Storm day in STL, it wasn’t uncommon for us to have 4 or 5 MD80s, 2 or 3 727s, sometimes several 757, occasionally a 76 and many J31s, J41, ATR etc.
The MD80’s and 72’s (at least TW’s) all had airstairs. However, we would keep the pax aboard as it would’ve possibly cost us our clearance if we had to reboard. Usually the time on the ground was about an hour or less. There were occasions where we ended up getting T-storms here as well, and we would deplane for safety reasons.
There were several occasions where we received several Intl flight. Like AGS, we didn’t have customs, so there was no way we could deplane. In the event of a case like this, the customs agents from Decatur or Peoria would’ve had to come over and clear the pax. The crew did get off the aircraft to contact dispatch (this was late 90s so cell phones weren’t as prominent). We did have a truck stair used mainly for the Air National Guard. It was big enough to fit any thing up to a 74 so we did have a safe way to deplane. It however would not fit a DC-9 sized aircraft, so when other airlines deplaned in, if the air stair was disabled, we had to use MX steps which the pax weren’t allowed to deplane on. Luckily this never happened, but add intl into the equation and I would imagine like MDuell said. In light of all the “holding passengers hostage stories though” I’ll bet crew sched would’ve been scurrying to find a crew to fly the aircraft.


In alot of circumstances like this it’ll end up being a bit of a wait on the aircraft. Here in FNT we’d put a call into customs either in DTW, or Ann Arbor, and they’d drive up. About an hour drive or so, and we’d have to keep the passenger’s quarantined. As far as the stairs go, we’d have to figure something out, either by borrowing another airline’s stairs or “adapting” a jetbridge.