Family stuck at SLC Airport gets help from ABC 4 viewers

- SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - A family of four has been stranded in the Salt Lake City International Airport for the past five days.

Curtis Saxton, his wife, and his two children, ages 13 and 4, arrived at the airport on Wednesday night. They have been there ever since, waiting for a JetBlue flight that has enough room for them.

"We just sit and walk around and wait for our flights," said Saxton.

The family is flying with buddy passes, which they get at a huge discount. But the passes do not guarantee them seats. They are only allowed to fly if there is room after all passengers and standby passengers have boarded the plane.

"We've been here for every flight, rolled over for every flight," said Saxton. "We're still at the bottom of that list."

Their patience has run out and so has their money. Airport food is expensive, so they have been living on one meal a day.

"I have been hungry, hungry, hungry, hungry!" said Dominic, their four-year-old son. The lack of food is taking its toll on his system. He spent Sunday morning throwing up.

"It broke our heart when he was very sick this morning," said Saxton. "He is normally so bright and energetic."

All four of them are also exhausted. They are sleeping on short metal benches with very little padding. They are getting about two hours of sleep a night, and they say they have been denied pillows and blankets.

"There's a lot of people walking by and staring at you and kind of laughing at you," said Nicole Bennett, Saxton's wife. "It doesn't feel very good."

The family has also been unable to shower since Wednesday.

"You feel gross," said their 13-year-old daughter, Sadee. "It's embarrassing."

JetBlue told ABC4 that there is nothing they can do to get the family on a flight. The airline cannot give away seats that people have paid full price for, to accommodate the family.

Saxton says his relatives don't have enough money to buy full price tickets to get his family back to Virginia. So the family will continue to wait at the airport, until a flight is empty enough to squeeze them on.

A manager with JetBlue says most of their flights this coming week are already full.

Saxton requested donations or any other assistance to help his family get home.
UPDATE (Monday, August 20):

A team of paramedics was called in to examine 4-year-old Dominic. He was given a clean bill of health.

An ABC 4 viewer purchased tickets for the Saxton family, allowing them to leave on Tuesday. Other viewers have offered free lodging, food, and other assistance.

Meanwhile, a Salt Lake International Airport official told ABC 4 that Saxton has refused lodging and food assistance vouchers.

ABC 4 has contacted Saxton, who said he did not need the food vouchers due to generous donors, and that he did not want to leave the airport for fear of losing a chance at standby seats.

Saxton said he would take his family to a motel Monday night and return for their scheduled flight Tuesday morning. The motel stay was donated by United Airlines.

Stay tuned to ABC 4 News and for updates on this story.

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