Flight delay causes chaotic travel for CCU students

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) -  Flight delays, hotel issues and nearly two full days of travel.

That's what several students and professors at Coastal Carolina University had to deal with after a month abroad in Europe, one professor calling it pure chaos.

Coastal Carolina students were supposed to return home Monday night, but when their flight from Athens, Greece to Philadelphia was delayed four hours it caused them to miss their connecting flight from Philadelphia to Charlotte.

The students returned to campus Tuesday afternoon and say despite the chaos, they're just glad to be back.

"They assured us that once we get to Philadelphia we would be taken care of," said CCU Associate Professor Joseph Fitsanakis.

CCU's Center for Global Engagement was notified by Dr. Fitsanakis of the delay in Athens and reached out to American Airlines for a resolution that would get the group home safely and quickly.

Part of that was a voucher to a hotel room for each student when they arrived, however the hotel had no rooms available.

"Even though it's their fault that our flight has been delayed and or we may need to spend the night in cots at the airport," said Fitsanakis.

Eventually an American Airlines worker used her personal credit card to book a hotel room for both students and faculty.

"We ended up sleeping for three hours," said CCU student, Eric Winter.

CCU released a statement in response to the situation:

CCU was very disappointed when American Airlines staff did not fulfill what had been agreed upon for our group, resulting in unnecessary confusion and frustration for our students and faculty. 

As for students like Winter, this was not the way he wanted to end such a memorable month abroad.

"For me its infuriating, for the airline to just not care about the accommodations that we needed, to not care that we did not want to sleep at airport," said Winter.

An American Airlines customer service representative has informed CCU that the airline will be providing financial compensation to the students.

Associate Provost for Global Initiatives Dr. Darla Domke-Damonte said they are all glad the students are back safe and that CCU's Center for Global Engagement has in place an emergency management protocol that assists and supports all of our students, faculty and staff who are serving or traveling abroad for any reason.

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