American Airlines pilot says people who grounded planes on Christmas 'don't have a clue'

DALLAS - It was not a very Merry Christmas for hundreds of air passengers who spent much of the holiday camped out on planes at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

The airport said about 1,000 people ended up spending the night at the airport after more than 400 flights were canceled because of a winter storm.

Several American Airlines passengers said they were stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours, which would be in violation of federal rules. On Tuesday, CNN affiliate WFAA spoke with a passenger bound for Las Vegas, who said she'd been sitting on the plane at the gate for nearly five hours.

During that conversation, the plane's pilot came on the intercom to address the people on board about the grueling delay.

"I've called. I've made more personal phone calls than I know what to do with. I've spent my last quarter, to be honest with you. It's beyond reproach. I have no words to tell you... to tell you how sorry I am. This is way above our heads... by people that obviously, in my humble opinion, don't have a clue what they're doing," said the pilot."

American Airlines says it apologizes to its customers for the inconvenience.

But it said that the fast-moving winter storm required the airline to implement a de-icing program that limited its ability to safely keep planes moving at a normal place.

The flight to Las Vegas -- which the passenger and that pilot were waiting for -- never left the gate on Wednesday.

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