Chicago teacher's tropical vacation turns 'traumatizing' after flight fiasco leaves her stranded

A Chicago teacher took a vacation to paradise but couldn’t get home and was stuck on the island of Curaçao for three extra days.

Imani Strong is an educator and was supposed to be back at work at Chicago Tech Academy high school this week, but her American Airlines flight was rerouted, and she told us on Wednesday the airline had not helped them get out of the Caribbean.

"We're just happy to be on a plane to get somewhere. Like, it's been very traumatizing. I feel like we've been held hostage here for four days," said Strong.

It was supposed to be a long weekend in paradise with white sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters until Strong headed for home.

Her flight home, American Airlines flight 572, had to turn around due to a mechanical emergency.

"We got at least about 45 minutes in the air, and we had to reroute back to Curaçao and have an emergency landing due to an engine malfunction," said Strong.

American Airlines did offer vouchers for transportation, hotel, and food, but Imani said they had to wait in line every day for five hours to get the coupons. She and the other 200 passengers got their hopes up, day after day.

"Every day that you get a flight confirmation, they give us a departure time, and that flight never goes out," explained Strong. "I want my money back. I want someone to recognize what's happening. I want everyone to know what American Airlines has done for us over in Curaçao."

Strong told FOX 32 they did get some help from the U.S. consulate, but never anyone in person from American Airlines helped them escape paradise.

On Wednesday afternoon, Strong and some of the other stranded passengers boarded a flight to Charlotte, N.C. She said someday she will go back to Curaçao, just not via American Airlines.

Her connecting flight was expected to land at O’Hare International Airport around midnight Wednesday.

American Airlines did not respond to our request for comment.