The San Francisco CBS affiliate reported that among the passengers on the flight was an unaccompanied 11-year-old girl.

Molly Rogers was particularly anxious. Her 11-year-old daughter was on the flight alone and Rogers was unable to reach anyone at the airline who could tell her what was going on. She finally saw her daughter after a 28-hour wait. “I was really missing my mom,” said the girl.

The ugly tarmac delays are unlikely to enhance Etihad’s reputation with frequent travelers, especially as the national flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates makes a major international expansion push.

Image for article titled An epically miserable flight from Abu Dhabi to San Francisco took 28 hours—including 12 on the tarmac

The incident is reminiscent of several high-profile flight delays—including a notorious 11-hour incident with Jet Blue in 2007—that spurred US aviation regulators to institute strict policies about how long passengers can be kept on the tarmac, including heavy airline fines for non-compliance. The US rules currently limit delays to three hours for domestic travel and four hours for international, after which passengers can demand to be let off. But delays that take place outside the US are not subject to the rules.

The European Union’s rules give passengers the right to deplane after tarmac delays of five hours. After one hour, the airline must provide air conditioning, water, and toilet access.

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