American Eagle Flight Diverted From Wichita Falls Regional Airport

American Eagle Flight Diverted From Wichita Falls Regional Airport
Published: Jan. 21, 2016 at 10:48 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 21, 2016 at 11:09 PM CST
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 WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Passengers, of an American Eagle flight, are demanding answers after a flight heading to the Wichita Falls Regional Airport Wednesday night was diverted back to DFW.

Passengers on board said the flight was diverted after the pilot announced a problem with the runway lighting. That problem was confirmed Thursday afternoon by an American Airlines spokesperson.

Newschannel 6 learned that a remote trigger used by the pilots failed, and the lights never turned on. The pilots on the flight attempted to contact the airport, but they said they never got an answer. That’s why they were forced to turn back, according to Briana Jackson, a spokesperson for American Airlines.

“For some reason they were not working very well, or they weren't working at all from what I've been told and  they circled and they tried to spend as much time as they could, making sure,” said Jackson.

“It’s very frustrating because we had been traveling all day, then you wait two and half hours for the flight and what really added huge insult to injury is the way we were treated by American,” said one passenger on the flight, who wanted to remain anonymous.

Upon arrival, one passenger said they were informed by American Airlines that the turnaround wasn't the company's fault and would not be offering food or hotel vouchers to the passengers, or even their luggage. 

“If it’s something like weather or something just beyond our control, like this issue, then unfortunately nothing can be done,” said Jackson. “We can’t offer any vouchers or anything like that, it's not really our issue. I think you should talk to the airport authority and ask them some questions about that.”

Newschannel 6 placed calls into the airport, they were not returned. However, John Burrus, Director of Aviation, Traffic and Transportation for Wichita Falls, said the airfield lighting is strictly controlled by Sheppard Air Force Base. Burrus said he would not comment until an analysis conducted by Sheppard Air Force Base on the incident was submitted to the city.

“It just seems like they're more concerned about their jobs than they are about the citizens, to the customer, and the sole supplier and the relationship that they have with American Airlines,” said the disgruntled passenger.

American Airlines officials said the incident was not a pilot error. They said the pilot of the flight was a senior pilot, and very experienced.

Newschannel 6 did place calls into Sheppard Air Force Base, but we are still waiting to hear back.

The city said this is the second time a flight has been diverted due to the lack of lights coming on, on the runway. The last time this happened, the city claimed it was a pilot error.

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