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Sunday
Dec082013

Passengers Camp Out on Grounded Plane at Dallas Airport

Photodisc/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- They were set to depart on one of the world’s longest non-stop flights, from Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, to Brisbane, Australia. Instead, passengers spent the longest night of their lives sleeping on a plane grounded by the weather.

Passengers on board Qantas flight QF8 were set to depart on Friday at 10 p.m., but because of weather conditions, the plane was forced to return to the terminal and park at the gate.

“The passengers were given the option to stay on the plane or to go around the terminal,” Qantas spokeswoman Sharna Rhys-Jones said in a statement. “Due to the congestion at the airport from other cancellations, many passengers chose to stay on board.”

Black ice affecting the roads surrounding the airport meant that authorities couldn’t transport passengers to the hotel rooms they had organized for everyone after the flight was cancelled.

Passengers were provided with blankets as well as catering and entertainment such as movies while they camped out on the Being 747, airport officials said.

“Qantas was able to obtain hotel rooms, but not transportation for its passengers,” airport spokesman David Magana said. “They offered to the passengers the option to stay on the plane if that was more comfortable for them. Doors remained opened, passengers could get in and out as they wished.”

Many passengers did go back and forth between the plane and terminal, according to a tweet from DFW Airport, and were able to go to the hotel once the roads reopened.

The airport also tweeted this afternoon that about 400 departures had been cancelled on Saturday. It said it is prepared for the coming ice storms with “de-icing equipment and top-of-the-line snow plows.”

The roughly 17-hour flight from Dallas to Brisbane was rescheduled for 11 p.m. Saturday.

As of Sunday morning, three runways were cleared and made operational. The number of passengers in the terminal was down from 3,000 to about 2,076. Still, about 400 more flights were cancelled for Sunday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio