It’s been an adventurous couple of days for people trying to get to Florida from Utah and back again for the BYU Cougars and Utah Utes football games in the Sunshine State over the weekend.
First, a flight on Friday from Provo to Tampa Bay that held a whole bunch of fans of both teams was diverted to Tulsa, Okla., putting fans’ ability to get to games on time in question.
Then on Saturday into Sunday, the Ute football team got stranded in Gainesville because of a mechanical issue on their plane and did not get back to Salt Lake City until Sunday evening at about 7:20 p.m. MT.
Going back to Friday, Allegiant Air Flight 983 departed Provo Municipal Airport at 5:52 p.m. MT, according to Flightaware tracking data. It was scheduled to arrive in Florida after midnight ET, but it was diverted to Tulsa International Airport just after 9 p.m. CT.
As it turns out, the flight was full of fans of both BYU and Utah, including some players’ families. The BYU game was nearby the flight’s destination in Tampa, but about a two-hour drive away from where Utah was to play in Gainesville.
Passengers wound up getting stuck in Tulsa for the night, and a flight for Florida didn’t leave until about 10 a.m. CT on Saturday morning, with BYU’s game scheduled for five hours later and Utah’s eight hours later.
Thankfully for all involved, that flight allowed them to get to their games on time (the long weather delay before the BYU game started gave some extra cushion), and the whole experience provided some very solid social media content.
Here’s just a small sampling.
The toxicity of the rivalry could all be solved if both fan bases were forced to be stranded in Tulsa together at the beginning of each season. It’s been quite the experience. Great people in both red and blue.— Ryan Stephens (@rtstephens267) September 3, 2022
After those flight woes ultimately ended alright, the Ute football team ran into trouble trying to get back to Utah.
Early on Sunday morning, senior communications AD Paul Kirk tweeted that the team charter could not leave Gainesville Regional Airport because of a mechanical issue, and an “alternative plan” was being worked on to get back to Salt Lake City.
He added that the University of Florida was working to help the situation.
We are also in communication with the University of Florida, and are grateful for the assistance they are providing to help accommodate the team and travel party.— Paul Kirk (@_PaulKirk) September 4, 2022
Finally, at 7:20 p.m. Mountain Time on Sunday, Kirk reported that the travel party was back safe in Salt Lake City.