They were supposed to be taking a direct flight from LAX to JFK — but wound up on a 16-hour nightmare tour by air and bus of New York state.
Before finally arriving at their destination, the starving passengers of jinxed Virgin America Flight 404 had been stranded on a tarmac for seven hours and forced to ride a bus for another 2½ hours.
At one point, food supplies aboard the plane were so low that Pringles chips had to be rationed: four chips apiece, furious passengers told The Post. “That’s all we got — four chips and half a cup of water,” said disgusted flier Justin Gordon, 23.
Flight 404 had left LA at 7:10 a.m. (PST) — 10:10 a.m. New York time — Saturday and was due to arrive at JFK at 3:30 p.m. But because of 60-mph winds here, the plane was forced to circle JFK until it was finally diverted to Stewart Airport in Newburgh — 90 miles north — for a 5:15 p.m. landing. There, the plane remained on the tarmac until close to midnight, passengers say. The airline said the wait was more like 4½ hours.
Either way, passengers were growing increasingly frustrated — with one woman suffering a panic attack. She was escorted off by police. The remaining cranky passengers included Carrie Ann Inaba of “Dancing with the Stars,” the CEO of a social-networking firm who made videos and Twitter posts throughout the ordeal, and three screaming babies.
The captain and flight crew seemed to be overwhelmed, too, said David Martin, CEO of Kontain.com, who posted the frequent updates online.
“One guy said he had a question, and the flight attendant started shouting at this guy, ‘You are really getting on my freaking nerves! You need to shut the hell up!’ ” Martin said. He added, “Carrie Anne and I tried to bring cookies on the plane to the mothers with babies, and the flight attendants started snapping at us.”
The passengers’ white knight finally arrived — in the form of JetBlue. Contacted by the Virgin America captain because JetBlue has facilities at Stewart and Virgin doesn’t, the competing airline sent over staffers, who boarded the plane.
“Ladies and gentleman, we’re here to get you off the plane,” a JetBlue employee said to cheers. JetBlue arranged for buses to transport the passengers to Kennedy. Exhausted, the riders finally arrived at 2 a.m. — actually, 3 a.m. because of the changeover to Daylight Savings Time.
Adding insult to injury, the Virgin plane had left Stewart empty — and beat the passengers back to JFK. After seeing Martin’s posts and videos the next day, Virgin America CEO David Cush called him and Inaba to apologize, promising a full refund and $100 credit to all passengers.