"We just sit and walk around and wait for our flights," Curtis Saxton told local affiliate ABC 4. "We've been here for every flight, rolled over for every flight," said Saxton. "We're still at the bottom of that list."
Curtis Saxton and his wife Nicole Bennett, along with their 13-year-old daughter Sadee and 4-year-old son Dominic, had used a relative's buddy pass, to fly from Virginia to Utah.
Buddy passes are technically lower-end version of standby flights, meaning that the Saxtons were forced to wait until all passengers, including regular standby requests, had been seated.
And with so many Americans traveling on summer vacations, there just weren't any seats available on their return JetBlue flight. So the family was stuck at SLC Airport from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21.
Even worse, they were forced to sleep on airport benches and because of limited funds, could afford to eat only one meal per day. "There's a lot of people walking by and staring at you and kind of laughing at you," said Bennett. "It doesn't feel very good."
The family hadn't even been able to shower since the day they arrived at the airport. "You feel gross," said 13-year-old Sadee. "It's embarrassing."
The family said neither they nor their relatives could afford to purchase a ticket back to Virginia at the standard price.
However, once news of their plight was reported, donations quickly arrived. United Airlines purchased a motel room for the family and an anonymous donor purchased them a ticket back to Virginia, which they used on Wednesday morning.
Before the donations arrived, things had gotten so bad that 4-year-old Dominic began vomiting on Sunday and had to be evaluated by airport paramedics. "I have been hungry, hungry, hungry, hungry!" Dominic said.
It should be noted that JetBlue did nothing wrong here. In fact, the airline said it was without options, as it could not take away tickets from other paying passengers on flights that were already fully booked. A independent survey of airlines passengers released by J.D. Power and Associates in June ranked JetBlue as the top industry airline for customer satisfaction for North America.
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