Passenger sticks out 18-hour delay, gets whole plane to himself

CHARLOTTE — What would you do if you were the only passenger on a commercial airplane?

That was the case for Phil Stringer, a realtor from the Greensboro area who flew into Charlotte early Monday morning.

He had a flight booked from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Charlotte on Sunday. Because of storms and other issues across the country, the flight ended up being delayed by a whopping 17 hours and 52 minutes. By that point, every other passenger had either booked another flight or given up on flying out that day -- but not Stringer.

At 12:12 a.m., Stringer was the only passenger aboard an Airbus A321 as it flew towards CLT.

Stringer posted a video of his unique experience on TikTok. The video racked up millions of views in just hours.


18-hour delay turned this flight into a private party! ✈️🥳 Watch how the amazing crew and I made the most of it! #americanairlines #flightattendant #airplanetiktok #privateparty #FlightFun #delayedflight #fyp #viral

♬ Makeba - Jain

Stringer’s jubilation is obvious in the video, but even the American Airlines employees at the gate and inside the plane seem to be excited about his VIP adventure.

A baggage handler smiled when Stringer asked how many bags he had to load for that flight.


A flight attendant laughed when Stringer pointed the camera away from the pre-flight safety check, saying, “You’re not paying attention?”

Channel 9′s Evan Donovan spoke with Stringer on Monday, and he said he ended up getting his own personal crew.

“They had to get called; they were at their hotel, like they were going to go to bed,” Stringer said. “I felt so badly because I was like, oh my gosh, they literally had to come here for me.”

Stringer said he was just “turning a bad situation into a good one.”

“I had just posted on my social media that day that your attitude determines your direction,” Stringer said.

According to FlightAware, The flight ended up landing in Charlotte at 3:21 a.m. Monday, 17 hours and 31 minutes after its scheduled arrival.

As if the 18-hour delay wasn’t enough, he had another gut punch when he landed in Charlotte.

“My bag actually did get misplaced for about 45 minutes in Charlotte,” Stringer said. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ We lost the one bag that we had on the plane.”

Despite the issues, Stringer said it’s a flight he’ll never forget.

“We joked, we laughed, we cut up. I exchanged phone numbers with them, like we’re still literally texting today and group messaging,” Stringer said.

(WATCH: Photo of Delta Airlines attendant comforting woman on flight out of CLT goes viral)

Andrew McMillan, wsoctv.com

Andrew McMillan is the Digital Content Manager for WSOC-TV.

Evan Donovan

Evan Donovan, wsoctv.com

Evan is an anchor and reporter for Channel 9.

Comments on this article