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'We all just kind of had to stay' | Teen stranded at CLT finally gets home after more than 24 hours in the airport

A 17-year-old shares the ordeal of spending the night at CLT following dozens of flight cancelations due to weather.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As of Friday night, passengers at Charlotte Douglas International Airport were still expressing their frustrations following hundreds of canceled or delayed flights from the day before. 

At 9 p.m., flight-tracking website Flight Aware showed almost 37% of flights originating from CLT were delayed.

Liliana Holmes, a teenager traveling from Boston to Louisiana, said she was stranded at the airport for more than 24 hours. Her original connecting flight was delayed to 10 p.m. Thursday, then eventually canceled at midnight. 

"We all just kind of had to stay or get a hotel. And because I'm a minor, I can't get one. So I just stayed and just kind of walked down the halls," she said, "and I couldn't get a blanket or a pillow. Nobody would give me one. And all the stores were closed. So I couldn't buy one."

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Holmes said her parents tried to call American Airlines, but couldn't get through.

"They were trying to get me a hotel, but no one would take me because I'm 17."

American's website points out that unaccompanied minor service is optional.

Holmes said she had plenty of company. 

"I've just been sitting here talking with everybody. We've all just become friends like everybody was involved," she said. "We all just connected because we're all mad."

She tried emailing the airline, then calling.

"I was on hold for like three hours. And then they called me while I was sleeping. So I tried to call them back and they wouldn't pick up."

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Holmes said she got back into the customer service line when it opened back up early Friday morning. After being told the next flight she could get on was Saturday morning, she got bumped back up to Friday afternoon.

"I got the ticket for this 2 p.m. flight either because I'm a minor or because I was crying. It was one of those things," she said.

A spokesperson told WCNC Charlotte the major reason for the airline's delays was primarily due to severe weather along the East Coast, which resulted in air traffic control calling for stops on the ground. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation told WCNC Charlotte that Secretary Pete Buttigieg was on a call Thursday with airline CEOs. CNBC reports he asked the airlines to improve customer service as well as take steps to ensure the disruptions over Memorial Day weekend are not repeated into the summer.

Contact Jane Monreal at jmonreal@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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