'It was supposed to be the best weekend ever': Bengals fans missed game due to flight delays

·3 min read
Michelle Dorward Jones
Michelle Dorward Jones

* This story has been updated to include a response received Feb. 2 from American Airlines.

Cincinnatian Michelle Dorward Jones goes to Cincinnati Bengals games to have fun, but she also goes to gather content for her blog and Instagram account, Hey Michelle, in which she promotes things to do in Cincinnati.

But due to flight cancellations, delays and a missed connection she missed the AFC Championship game Sunday in Kansas City, which the Cincinnati Bengals won.

She and at least six other fans didn't end up arriving until just as the game was ending Sunday night.

"It was supposed to be the best weekend ever," Dorward Jones said. She is mad at American Airlines, but she and her sister, Suzy Dorward still managed to have fun, she said.

Here's what happened: The sisters' Saturday flight was canceled and moved to early Sunday. Amid big storms along the East Coast, the crew didn't show up for the Sunday flight so the sisters were moved to flight that had a connection through Philadelphia.

That wasn't ideal, but it did get them to Kansas City. But the flight to Philadelphia didn't get there in time and as a group of Cincinnatians hustled to the gate, Dorward Jones said airline employees shut the door on them saying they didn't arrive in the required time before departure.

The new flight was the one that arrived in Kansas City after the game.

Jones posted on Facebook.

"Cincinnati Bengals fans cheers extra hard for all of us who won’t make the game!!" She posted. "Who Dey now Bengal fans and Chief fans are supporting each other to figure (expletive) out!"

Brent Chism, 46, of Dallas, is a marketing executive who was on Doward Jones' Kansas City flight because he too was headed the game, only as a Chiefs fan. Still, the two bonded in their desire to get to the game and their frustration.

Chism's take, "I was bummed, but then you see people on the flight, Bengals fans, who had made a huge sacrifice to get the game and they were crying. My heart was broken to see how upset they were."

Chism said for some of the flight they could follow along, but not the second half.

"When we landed, these massive things had happened (in the game)," Chism said. "It was surreal."

Chism said he understands the weather and crew delays, but felt the airline could have allowed the group on the plane, despite the door being closed.

Dorward Jones said the fans were crying. "They weren't helping us," she said.

Some moments you can't get back and this was one, Dorward Jones said.

The Enquirer reached out to American Airlines for comment on Monday when the story was first posted on Cincinnati.com.

On Wednesday an airline spokeswoman told The Enquirer, “We are looking into the matter and a member of our team has reached out to the customers to learn more about their experience.”

She added that the rules to do state boarding ends 15 minutes before departure and that seats belonging to people who fail to show up at that point may have their seats reassigned to other passengers.

And she pointed out Jones was offered miles or a trip credit to cover her return flight.

Doward Jones said she talked to an American Airlines representative Monday afternoon, who offered her $400 in future flight money, which Doward Jones didn't immediately accept.

After landing the sisters did hurry to meet up with friends "so at least we could hug and scream and talk about it."

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This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Bengals AFC Championship game: Flight delays cost fans