DENVER -- A Frontier flight from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Denver on Christmas Day had to turn around after the airplane failed to pressurize. It was he beginning of a terrible travel day for passengers.
Christmas started well for Arielle Alvarado-Pond, a Grand Junction woman who was aboard Frontier flight 129.
"It was great. Christmas morning, [we] opened up presents, had fun, had breakfast," said Alvarado-Pond.
However, at 1:30 p.m. Central Time, the 'happy' holiday began to unravel.
"They said, 'They're having a maintenance issue. One of the doors isn't sealing. We're going to get it fixed,'" said Alvarado-Pond, who was on the flight with her husband and 7-year-old daughter. After a 30-minute delay to inspect the door, the plane took off. That's when things went from bad to worse.
"Everyone's getting a headache. The babies in front of us and behind us are all screaming bloody murder, and my daughter is just telling me, 'My ears aren't popping.' And I'm just feeling like my head is in a soda can being crushed," said Alvarado-Pond.
The plane was not pressurizing. Flight 129 returned to DFW, planning to land. It circled the airport several times at low altitude while trying to burn fuel.
"You could hear people vomiting at the front of the plane and it was just horrid," said Alvarado-Pond.
The plane eventually landed safely at DFW, where passengers were told a new plane would arrive 11:45 p.m. to transport them to Denver. However, that plane arrived an hour late at 12:45 a.m.
Then, another twist happened.
"The pilot announces, 'Sorry guys, this plane needs oil,'" said Alvarado-Pond.
The plane had an oil leak. Passengers disembarked for a new plane that finally departed for Denver at 2 a.m. It arrived at Denver International Airport at 3:35 a.m., more than 17 hours after Alvarado-Pond and her family arrived at the airport in Dallas.
Alvarado-Pond said passengers were told hotel vouchers would be waiting for them upon arrival, but they were never provided.
"I spent my entire Christmas at the airport. I am never flying Frontier again. That was horrid," said Alvarado-Pond.
Frontier Airlines released this statement to FOX31 about flight 129:
"Shortly after departure of Frontier flight 129 from Dallas to Denver on Tuesday, December 25, the crew received indication of a pressurization issue. The aircraft returned immediately to Dallas for maintenance. A replacement aircraft was sent to complete the flight, and passengers were given $100 travel vouchers and provided with meals. We understand that unexpected delays are frustrating, and we work to ensure our passengers reach their destinations as soon as circumstances permit."