Where to begin?
After refueling the plan in Milwaukee, they waited on the plane for another two plus hours until they finally got clearance to take off for O'Hare. Then, once they got to O'Hare, they got off the plane. However, American's stellar baggage handling staff managed to unload first class baggage only before declaring that there was too much lightning in the area to safely unload any more bags.
This being an international flight - my parents live in London - US Customs then declared that it was a security risk for anyone to use their mobile phone or for anyone to clear customs. Thankfully, an hour or so later, they finally relented and allowed passengers to make one phone call to relatives to let them know that they were in fact OK.
Of course, no one is moving at this point. Imagine yourself in their situation: you're old (not John McCain old, but old nevertheless), have just spent thirteen hours on an airplane, and would obviously like to get over to the Best Western (which you've already paid for) and go to sleep. However, you cannot do so because American won't unload your luggage, which means the Department of Homeland Security won't let you out of the airport. This means that you get to stand in a large, brightly lit room with nowhere to sit and do sweet f. a. You're not allowed to use your phone - OK, you've made your one call, and now your battery is running out anyhow - and there's nothing to watch except for pictures of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush welcoming you to the United States of America.
Sounds like a fucking awesome welcome back home experience, doesn't it? Any to think friends of mine occasionally ask me why they retired to the UK...
I've called their hotel at least and verified that they're holding a room for them. So, with any luck, American will find some baggage handlers, they'll get their bags, and then they can head over to their hotel. At this rate, they'll be lucky to get there before sunrise.
This is especially ridiculous because they were in a similar situation a couple of weeks ago: Aeroflot (surprise!) didn't get their luggage transferred in time at Sheremetevo or Domodedovo or whichever crappy Russian airport that was - they were connecting from Ulan Bataar - but UK customs of course just let them enter the country and then delivered their bags via taxi the next day.
Must be nice living in a civilized country.