BAGHDAD, IRAQ, DEC. 8 -- A plane carrying 22 American hostages flew out of Iraq today more than half empty following a day of confusion among the Iraqi government, the U.S. Embassy and a private group from Texas headed by former treasury secretary John Connally.

Connally's chartered 175-seat Iraqi Airways jet left with 22 freed American hostages, eight of their relatives and one British former hostage. The Americans included oil workers from a Texas company on whose board of directors Connally sits and former captives on a priority list for medical and humanitarian reasons.

Among them were three U.S. diplomats from Kuwait who had taken refuge in the U.S. Embassy here. "You've been a prisoner for 4 1/2 months, how would you feel?" B.J. Tinch, a hostage from Tennessee who left with Connally, said bitterly.

What would have been a jubilant moment was marred by nervous confusion among hostages left behind and anger at U.S. officials over what some frustrated hostage families said they believed were bungled arrangements. The feelings were visibly shared by those who were leaving.

Embassy officials said they had scheduled flights for Sunday intended to evacuate Americans from Iraq and Kuwait, but anxious hostages here worried over whether to believe assurances that they would soon get out. An official expressed hope that all of the estimated 500 Americans in Kuwait might be evacuated Sunday.

As the hostages rode to the airport, at least 26 angry and edgy Americans -- hostages and their relatives who had come this week to appeal for their release -- were left behind at the Mansour Melia Hotel, one gathering sites here for the hostages. Carloads of other Americans waited with suitcases at the U.S. Embassy compound but never got to leave.

"This isn't supposed to be happening like this," said a tearful Kevin Basner as he hugged the wife of another hostage who was not on the list to leave today. "We're all like family, man."

Embassy officials and members of the Connally delegation pointed fingers at each other over the empty seats. "We did our damnedest to get everybody out," said Samir A. Vincent, an Iraqi-born American who accompanied Connally's delegation. "If they are angry, they should be angry at the American Embassy. They didn't do anything for us."

A U.S. Embassy official called the visit by Connally -- who arrived days before Iraqi President Saddam Hussein announced he would free all foreign hostages -- "a private initiative officially discouraged by the U.S. Embassy." He said the delegation was uncooperative in trying to get more Americans on the flight.

The plane was the first to leave the country with hostages since Saddam announced Thursday that captive foreigners would be allowed to leave. Other flights today carried 41 Japanese ex-hostages and 440 Vietnamese workers from a bus factory who had camped at the airport for two days.

As of Friday, there were an estimated 2,000 Westerners and Japanese held in Kuwait and Iraq, including about 750 Americans.

Connally and Oscar Wyatt of the Texas-based Coastal States Petroleum Corp. came to Iraq last weekend seeking the release of about 30 oil workers, most of whom did not leave because the Iraqis did not bring them to Baghdad in time from strategic site where they are being held as human shields.

The U.S. Embassy has arranged for an Iraqi Airways 747 jumbo jet to leave Baghdad at 8 a.m. Sunday for Kuwait City to pick up Americans who have been in hiding there. The plane is to return to Baghdad to pick up more Americans before leaving at 3 p.m. for Frankfurt, Germany, said a U.S. Embassy official.

Another official said about 500 Americans are believed still in hiding in Kuwait, some reportedly having burrowed themselves in office and apartment-building ventilation ducts to avoid capture by Iraqi soldiers who have been arresting foreigners. Voice of America today began broadcasting appeals to those in hiding to contact the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait City to arrange their departure.

The official said the Americans likely will be asked to assemble in the parking lot of the burned-out Safeway supermarket in Kuwait City, as many of those evacuated from Kuwait have done in the past.

Asked if he believed many Americans would trust the announcement and surface, the official responded: "I'm sure there's a lot of trust involved." In late August some American men were taken hostage by Iraqi forces when, following an Iraqi offer to evacuate them from the country, they showed up with their families to leave.

Eight diplomats and 16 civilians are in the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait City. Officials here said some diplomats will remain in the compound until officials are convinced that all Americans have left the country. He said that could be as soon as tomorrow, but this was uncertain.

An official of the U.S. Embassy here who held talks today with Foreign Ministry officials said the Iraqis have agreed to give an exit visa to any American with a passport and a two-line cover letter from the embassy.

"We hope to get out {Sunday} any American who can get here," the official said.

He said the embassy had signed a memorandum with British and Canadian diplomats today to coordinate the evacuation among the three countries, which will give priority to each others' citizens in filling available space on flights that each country's embassy is organizing for its citizens.

Also scheduled to leave tomorrow is a plane carrying at least 45 Italian and two British men who were bused to the capital today from a thermal power station at Shemal, about 20 miles from the Turkish border.

The workers said they had been told this morning to pack their bags. Briton Steve Grady, the plant supervisor, said the mood on the bus was "absolutely terrific" on the trip to the capital.

Many of the American hostages gathered at the Mansour Melia today, including those whose relatives had come here to obtain their release, began their day with much the same enthusiasm. But it was gradually crushed in the hours of stomach-churning emotions that followed.

In the morning they were told to pack their bags. A wave of happiness and relief spread.

By noon they were still waiting, instructed to eat lunch in the hotel's ballroom. The mood was somber, the Scotch flowed, and so did condemnations of U.S. officials, who the frustrated captives said had not worked hard enough for their release, and of the Iraqi bureaucracy, which they criticized for not moving faster.

Suddenly, a slight man appeared with a slip of paper bearing the phonetic spellings, in Arabic, of hostages' names. The man spoke in Arabic, pronouncing the names, to summon the captives -- for what? Some moved only cautiously toward the message-bearer -- would he bring yet another disappointment? Others joined him quickly.

The names of many were not pronounced. Wives began to shake; men grew silent. Frightened and reddened eyes scanned for answers.

"This is incredible, I'm trying to make sense of this," said Barbara Smiley, shaking her head. Her husband was not on the list.

The tiny man ordered them upstairs, to their rooms, where they retreated in the belief that the Iraqi would follow to double check his list.

But he never reappeared.

"You can't get your hopes up," said Robert Vinton, who was waiting back in his room with his wife, Susan. "It really gives you a real downer."

Shortly afterward, a few lucky ones were summoned for the flight home. They ambled into the dark hotel hallway as those to be left behind slumped in their doorways. The departees wept and hugged them.

"I'm sure you'll be out of here soon," 17-year-old Kevin Hale, who had come to bring his father, Edward, home, said as he embraced his new friend, Willie Carr, who had traveled two days with Hale and the others to get here. "You're such a sweetheart."