Trip Report: Unaccompanied Minor Flight on American Travel Nightmare - 7/19/19

Hello IFC!

I have a very long, yet interesting story to share… about my worst flight I’ve been on. The flight total was delayed for about 6 hours, with many events lead to the delay.
So sit back, get comfy, and happy readings!


I was flying on American, as an unaccompanied minor. I was flying to Zurich, Switzerland to see a friend. The flight was AA92, on the now retired Boeing 767-300 (N391AA). I was flying from Philadelphia (KPHL) - Zurich (LSZH). It was scheduled to depart around 6:00 PM.

I was flying with American’s unaccompanied minors program. To briefly go over what it is… basically, if you are under 14 you are required to use this program in order to fly alone with American. Perks that come with this program in that a parent or American Airlines staff gets to escort you to the gate, priority boarding, and an escort at the destination airport. You have to pay $150 each way… which I think is overpriced.

The flight was first delayed for about 1 hour, because of a mechanical issue. We waited at the gate until they let us board. I was the very first to board, and they brought me to the very last row of the 767.

American Airlines’ 767 are much different compared to other legacy airlines. American uses the 767 out of their KMIA, KCLT, and KPHL hubs. Mainly for trans-Atlantic flights and flights to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. The cabins are very outdated, with the old seats and large overhead bins. The old cabin has no personal IFE, power outlets, and the interior is showing wear and tear. Needless to say, I was pretty bored throughout the flight (along with the delay).

After our small delay, we started to pushback. But when we started to taxi, the lights started flickering and the seatbelt sign turned on and off. Video of the lights

This happened multiple times, lasting a few seconds, then stopping for a bit more. The captain went on the P/A system and said we were heading back to the gate.

We sat on the plane the entire time they were repairing the aircraft. They never gave us an explanation of what was the problem, and in the end, they never did. We couldn’t really do anything, and passengers were becoming restless. Flight attendants handed out water and pretzels, but that’s about it. Keep in mind, I haven’t eaten dinner yet, and all I ate were pretzels and had water. I was planning on eating on the flight, but the flight was delayed so they didn’t start the dinner service until much later.

The delay slowly grew longer, about 4 hours now. The time is now 10:00 PM. Finally, the captain came back on the P/A system, and said the problem is now fixed; and we should be pushing back again in another 30 min.

You might have noticed that the delay is just 4 hours… not 6. That’s because just before we were going to pushback, a severe thunderstorm rolled in. The storm stopped all traffic departing from PHL. We were stuck again.

At this point, a couple of passengers chose to disembark the plane, and just leave. We were all tired and just wanted to get up in the air. We waited out the storm, which was about an additional 2 hours. The crew finally let some passengers get off the aircraft, to walk around the terminal, and stretch. I decided to go back to the terminal, to meet up again with my mom.

My mom, who brought me to the gate, had to wait the entire time because it was policy for her to stay at the terminal until the plane takes off. We bought a sandwich from the terminal for me to eat, because I still haven’t eaten dinner yet and I was starving. After waiting for about 30 minutes, they called all the passengers back to the aircraft.

The storm slowly started to die down, and once everyone has boarded the aircraft again, we started to pushback. After over 6 hours on the ground, we finally took off.

They served dinner right after takeoff. I forget what exactly I had, but it was some type of chicken and rice. I can’t remember if it was any good or not, because I was very tired. After dinner, I went straight to sleep.

I woke up off the coast of Europe. Since there was no IFE, I didn’t really have much to do. I couldn’t use my phone for entertainment, because I wanted to have some battery left when we landed in Switzerland to communicate.

I spent the time watching Europe down below flyby, read the magazine, read my book, and tried to sleep. There was also one last meal service, a small breakfast. If I remember correctly, I believe it was fruit, yogurt, and water.

After about a 6-hour flight, we finally landed in Zurich. Because we were delayed by 6+ hours, we couldn’t park at the gate. We had to park at a remote gate… which I was fine with. Because we got to deplane the aircraft by airstairs.

While we were taxiing to the gate, an elderly lady seemed sick. She called over the flight attendants, and they had her lay down the aisle beside me. I’m not entirely sure what happened to her, but we couldn’t leave the plane once we arrived at the gate for about another 30 minutes. Paramedics boarded the plane, helped her off the plane first, and drove her away in an ambulance.

Because I was an unaccompanied minor, I was told to wait on the aircraft until everyone else had deboarded. Another American Airlines staff introduced herself, and she escorted me to the terminal where my friend’s family was waiting. It was very fun seeing the 767 up-close when deboarding using airstairs.

I took the crew bus to the terminal, and it was kind of fun listening to the crew’s perspective on what happened. They didn’t mention much about it, except how it ruined their plans in Switzerland, and how it was probably one of the worst delays they’ve ever experienced. It was also a bit awkward for me when they started talking about skinny-dipping in a lake by Zurich. But they were all very nice to me.

Overall, the crew was very nice and kind to me. But the overall flight experience was pretty bad. Switzerland was a lot of fun, especially seeing my friend who I haven’t seen for a couple of years. I had a great time there, traveling around Switzerland and neighboring countries.

Hopefully, I won’t experience any other flights like this in my lifetime…
Oh, and in the end, we didn’t receive any compensation from this flight. :/


Thanks for reading this long trip report! I’d be surprised if you guys read through the entire thing!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to ask!
Also, please tell me if you find any mistakes written above haha.

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Awesome trip report! One unfortunate event after the other.

Honestly sums up why I hated American’s 767s. Infamous for these mechanical delays.

Other airlines’ 767s are great though

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I still remember this story from instagram. I am @aviation.eddm btw 🤣
I don‘t get why they use their 767 on that route

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Yeah, I have flown on a few United 767s and those were always great!

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Amazing report!

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Wish American would have updated their cabins, it would have been a nice aircraft a part of their fleet. It’s a bit of a shame how they had to retire all their 767s earlier then scheduled… because of COVID-19.

Thank you! @EVO_G-vlogs_200

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No bother!!

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I’ve had three overnight delays actually. First once was an 8 hour overnight delay in China once, in the terminal though. Probably airport closed. Second one was missing a connection, then last flight of the day was cancelled.

Worst one was this January, with flair YWG-YYZ. There was a lighting problem (might have been the same on you had). The delay ended up being overnight, and I rebooked onto air canada business class with aeroplan. The flair flight was later cancelled.

Another time first leg of an international transfer was cancelled. Complete reroute 12 hours later, got to visit EGLL :D

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Probably because the flight still left and also because there was a weather delay along with a mechanical delay and the weather delay was longer

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Aww man, sounds like that experience sucked. At least you got to see Switzerland!

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I’m not surprised at all that this happened, for one thing it’s old plane and an unreliable airline (in my opinion).

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So the lights flickered! Wow! I wonder how they fixed it so fast! I remember when I flew a few hours by myself with a few friends they never flew before and we were holding short while a plane landed and it scared them when they turn off the lights. And they got scared during any little turbulence. I’m mentioning this because I couldn’t imagine how they would react if this happened to them knowing the plane “broke down”

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You poor thing, trapped on a transatlantic 767 flight on American.

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Sad that happened to you. I’ve never experienced a mechanical delay with American before (even though they say they are all the time) but you should be glad they didn’t leave with a small issue and rather got it fixed. :)

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That’s very true! Much rather have a mechanical issue on the ground rather than in the air.

Awesome trip report! My mom would never let me go alone on a flight 😂

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Sounds horrible, but at least you made it

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Very interesting read!

Sad to hear you had a rough time - hopefully you won’t have a repeat.

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