Travel News

Wow: United Airlines Flight Taxied for 6 Hours, Refueled, Taxied Again and then Canceled

a group of airplanes at an airport
Written by Charlie

Passengers on this United Airlines flight were on the plane for more than 8 hours – and never left the ground. Here is what happened on this flight.

For passengers on United flight UA 1910 on August 22, it must have seemed like the flight would never start – and it didn’t. It must have seemed like they were going nowhere – and they were correct. Here is a look at what happened on this flight that spent over 8 hours on the taxiway.

United Airlines Flight Never Took Off – But Taxied for Over 8 Hours and Refueled

Imagine that you have taxied at an airport for so long that you actually need to go back to the gate to refuel. This is what happened for UA1910 from Newark to Denver. Well, it was scheduled to go to Denver.

But, due to bad weather in Denver, the United 737 taxied around – and around – and around – and around. It taxied for a total of 6 hours before the pilots decided that their newly planned route, that would avoid some of the weather, would require refueling.

So, back to the gate they went where the passengers disembarked during the refueling. At this point, passengers on this flight said they started getting cancellation messages for the flight in the United app but United gate agents had them reboard anyway. After boarding, they went back out to taxi some more and after another 2 hours, the flight crew timed out and had to go back to the gate.

Flight crews timing out does happen but this is obviously an abnormal situation where they are actually moving the aircraft for 8 hours and actually never taking off. Also, due to the “JetBlue” rule that was instituted a while back (after a JetBlue flight spent 7 hours on the tarmac), domestic flights are required to be in a position to allow passengers to disembark if they so choose. Here is the United Airlines’ Tarmac Delay plan.

This must happen after 3 hours after being away from the gate without having taken off. According to reports, this did happen but it appeared that none of the passengers chose to disembark (according to the rule, if passengers choose this option, they will have to get their own new way to their destination if the flight does take off since the airline is no longer responsible for their voluntary departure from the aircraft).

But, airlines are required to have food and water and working lavatories during such an incident. Passengers onboard this flight said they only were served a cup of water and biscuits. This was likely all that was loaded onboard since this would be the max that is offered in economy on such a flight. But, this flight was supposed to last for 4.5 hours, not the total 9 hours that passengers spent onboard.

After all that – and then to find out that the flight was cancelled! Yes, I am sure there were some irate passengers onboard that flight, and I would have been one of them. There was a NY Times reporter onboard who had tweeted throughout this experience. Strangely, all of those tweets were deleted. Not sure if this was at the NY Times request or if United is handling things privately with all the passengers.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Sorry but no sympathy. This is the exact reason why the DOT tarmac delay rule exists. Any passenger that did not deplane after 2 hours was an idiot. Go home and regroup.

  • And once it’s delayed 2 hours you have full rebooking flexibility so this “according to the rule, if passengers choose this option, they will have to get their own new way to their destination if the flight does take off since the airline is no longer responsible for their voluntary departure from the aircraft” doesn’t come into play.

    Rough delay, still not clear if people were forced to sit 6 hours continuous on the plane away from the gate.

  • Very interesting about the NYT reporter deleting her texts that tell the story. Wonder if United is a big advertiser in the NYT?