Accidental private flight: One man's delayed flight turns into luxury

How one American man made the most of being the lone passenger on a long-delayed flight.

 Airplane cabin interior.  (photo credit: FLICKR)
Airplane cabin interior.
(photo credit: FLICKR)

One North Carolina man went viral on TikTok after a full day of flight delays left him as the only passenger on a commercial flight from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Charlotte, North Carolina in late June. 

Phil Stringer, 34, experienced both worst and best-case scenarios when his early-morning flight from Oklahoma City was continually delayed by maintenance issues on his airline, NPR reported. Though Stringer is a seasoned traveler, constantly on the move for his job as the COO of a real estate brokerage company and an AI consultant, he told local media that most of his travels are relatively smooth.

Stringer got comfortable during his delay at the terminal's Starbucks, waiting for long enough through continued delays to even have to move to a table somewhere within the terminal. NPR reported that he was called back to his gate shortly before midnight - only for him to be alone with the flight crew.

His viral video joked that he had "purchased all of the seats so [he] wouldn't need to have other people on the flight," though, in his interview with NPR, he divulged that the gate agent informed him he was the only person left on the flight.

The airline hosted Stringer and four flight attendants - called back from their hotel for the single-person flight - for a flight none of them would forget.

So, they had no choice but to make the best of the cards they were dealt for their two-and-a-half-hour flight.

According to his TikTok documentation, Stringer and the crew spent their journey chatting the night away and teasing each other.

"We were like, look, we can either be negative about the situation and make a bad situation worse by our attitude, or we can be positive, lighthearted ... and try and make something of this and at least just have fun," Stringer said in his interview with NPR.

@phil.stringer 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

When a rough journey turns smooth

The US-based media outlet also revealed that upon landing at 3:30 in the morning, his bag was lost and required at least 45 minutes to look for it. Then, he still had to drive an hour home and get ready for work that same morning.

According to Stringer, he and his newfound flight attendant friends started a group texting chat, filled with banter. He's reportedly even purchased tickets to visit his new friends at their Dallas home base at the end of July.

Plus, he's received support from people who saw his TikTok, has been contacted by TV producers, and was invited to join a celebrity video-appearance platform, Cameo.

He expected his video to maybe get some laughs, but he did not expect it to launch him in the way it has.

"People have reached out and thanked me for literally shifting their perspective on their bad situation to where they can smile or they can be kind to another person or pass it on to someone else," Stringer told NPR. "And so that's been really cool to see, and something I didn't really expect with the video."