Flight hiccup leads to Steamboat students spending an extra day in Costa Rica

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— A group of Steamboat Springs Middle School students spent an extra day in Costa Rica after a bird derailed the students' flight plans.

Spanish teachers Marin Shanahan and Braden Wilson and 16 students were supposed to head back to Steamboat on Sunday morning after their 10-day excursion to participate in community service projects through Global Works.

The plane they were supposed to be on was struck by a bird on its incoming leg, Wilson said. After a long day waiting in the airport to find out whether the Frontier plane was fit to fly, Wilson said, the airline bused the travelers to a nearby hotel and put them up for the night with the promise of a flight at the same time Monday morning.

Frontier provided two buses to pick up the travelers for the 6:15 a.m. Monday departure. But because there are no flights typically scheduled that day for Frontier, the airline was understaffed, and the check-in process took longer than usual.

The delay caused a group of 11 travelers, including some Steamboat students, to miss the cutoff time for boarding the plane, Wilson said.

The initial solution, he said, was for the travelers who missed the cutoff to board another flight the next day.

“I’ve worked in Costa Rica for a decade, so I know how things work,” Wilson said. He told the pilot he was “not letting them out of their seats till you can produce a ticket.”

When it came back that there was no room on the flight in question, a new compromise was reached: a new flight.

Everyone disembarked and went through customs again and boarded the same plane with a new flight number, Wilson said.

“We became tight with everybody on the plane,” Steamboat eighth-grader Sammy Stabile said. “We did yoga.”

“They were troopers,” Wilson said about the students. “They were totally amazing.”

The about 200 other passengers on the plane were gracious, Wilson said, and Frontier and Costa Rica were accommodating and flexible about the situation.

The passengers eventually departed at about 11:30 a.m. Monday and got back into Denver after 5:30 p.m., according to Wilson.

This was Wilson’s seventh year taking a group of Steamboat students to Costa Rica. The students performed projects in local schools and helped with tiling in a local hospital to improve conditions, he said.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

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