Passengers Stuck on Planes
Recently, a “feeder” airline operated under the aegis of Continental Airlines, was forced to sit with its 47 passengers (on a 50 seat aircraft) on the tarmac, at a Rochester, Minnesota airport, the entire night. This, while another flight that arrived at about the same time, operated by Delta, went to a gate supplied by the airport to unload its passengers.
This was not the first time passengers were forced to endure horrendous conditions (lack of food and drink, stale and foul smelling air, broken toilets, medical conditions untreated). Not long ago Jet Blue let its passengers sit for over fifteen hours at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. There are many, many stories of stranded passengers.
The situation has been so distressful that Congress is now contemplating rules that would instruct airlines in the appropriate action under similar circumstances. The airlines do not want to be “forced” to react in a specific way. They want to react in a “voluntary” manner, and insist they have learned their lesson.
The neglect of the airlines in many of these situations is egregious. Far more effective than accepting an apology and a voucher for a free flight would be if all the passengers on such a flight join together in a lawsuit against the offending airline. The cost of defending the lawsuit, the cost of the eventual judgement or settlement, and the substantial bad publicity would be as effective, if not more so, than any slap on the wrist contemplated in proposed legislation.
If anyone finds themselves in such an unfortunate situation on a plane, think about organizing such an initiative while in that predicament. Gather the names of your fellow passengers that would be willing to participate in a lawsuit. If nothing else, it would give you something constructive to do during the time, to while away the hours. If you have been stuck on a plane for hours, or days, call an attorney to see if there is possible case against the airline.