Suburban Family Stranded Abroad After Canceled Flights

A Chicago-area family was stranded in another country for several days after their flight crew became sick, enduring two cancellations before embarking on their long journey home.

Julie and David Ramsay, plus their 16-year-old son, traveled to Auckland, New Zealand, for the holidays to visit with family.

They should have been back in their southwest suburban home Friday, but instead they were stuck in a hotel in New Zealand and unsure until Sunday morning when they would be able to return home.

The vacation started as a dream trip, the family said.

"We had a great time," David Ramsay said via FaceTime. "New Zealand is a fantastic place, I had a wonderful time with cousins I hadn't seen in close to 20 years."

But while they were at the airport waiting to board their American Airlines flight that would eventually take them home to Chicago, they were first told the flight was delayed. Then, they found out it wasn't taking off that day at all.

"Eventually we heard a PA announcement that the flight was canceled because six of the 13 crew members were sick," David Ramsay recalled.

The Ramsays received notice from American Airlines that their flight, originally scheduled to depart Friday at 3:20 p.m. (19 hours ahead of Chicago time), was canceled and rebooked after nearly half the crew fell ill.

They were put up in a hotel by American Airlines until they could get another flight - which was then canceled once again, and this time, with no explanation.

"For me it’s the lack of communication," said Julie Ramsay. "Not knowing why it was cancelled, when we’re gonna get back. That’s the frustrating part."

"We’re both experienced travelers and so cancelled flights are not a new thing to us," David Ramsay added. "Canceled flights without any information and being stuck overseas with a major American airline is not something we’re used to."

A spokesman for American Airlines said in a statement Saturday that their team was "in the process of rebooking passengers on alternative flights from the New Zealand to the United States," adding, "Once this process is complete, we will reach out to the Ramsay family with their updated itinerary."

"We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans, and we are sorry for the trouble this caused," the statement continued.

The airline then reached out again to confirm that they were able to put the Ramsays on a flight departing Auckland Sunday, flying to Los Angeles via Sydney, Australia, then home to Chicago – with hopes of eventually bringing the family’s travel ordeal to an end.

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