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  • Express Jet passengers wait 6 hours and then some

    47 spend `surreal' 6 hours on grounded plane



    By NOMAAN MERCHANT, Associated Press Writer Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press Writer 26 mins ago

    MINNEAPOLIS By its sixth hour sitting on a deserted tarmac, Continental Express Flight 2816 had taken on the smell of diapers and an overwhelmed lone toilet.

    What should have been a 2 1/2-hour trip from Houston to Minneapolis had moved into its ninth hour, and the 47 passengers on board had burned through the free pretzels and drinks handed out early in their Friday night flight from Houston.

    Passengers on another flight that had been diverted to the airport in Rochester, Minn., because of storms were allowed to disembark and were put on a bus that would take them the 85 miles to Minneapolis. And the terminal, where passengers could at least stretch their legs, breathe fresh air and use the vending machines, was a mere 50 yards away.

    But it wasn't until 6 a.m. Saturday six hours after landing that Flight 2816's passengers were allowed out of the plane.

    "It was almost a surreal quality that kind of developed during the night," passenger Link Christin said. "It felt like you were trapped in a cave underground."

    In the end, it took 12 hours and a new flight crew for Flight 2816 to complete its journey. There have been longer waits on airport tarmacs in recent years passengers on a February 2007 JetBlue flight waited 11 hours at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport but the Flight 2816 delay gives the airline industry another black eye and could give a lift to legislation aimed at preventing such nightmare scenarios.

    Continental Airlines on Monday deferred most questions to ExpressJet Airlines, the regional carrier that operated the flight. But Continental did issue an apology to passengers, calling it "completely unacceptable" and offering refunds and vouchers for future travel.

    Flight 2816 left Houston at 9:23 p.m. Friday, scheduled to arrive in Minneapolis by midnight. Instead, severe weather forced air controllers to divert the plane south to Rochester, where it landed after midnight.

    In Minneapolis, Continental's dispatchers decided to wait out the storms rather than cancel the flight and bus passengers the remaining 85 miles.
    Christin said a female voice shouted back asking if anyone wanted a drink.
    "And for the next five hours, there was no offer of drink or food," said Christin, a St. Paul resident returning from visiting his father.

    The flight was cleared to take off at 2 a.m., but the storms started up again.

    The passengers remained calm, Christin said. But he described a difficult environment where sleep was scarcely possible, with babies crying out every 5 to 10 minutes and not enough blankets or pillows to go around.

    Adding to the frustration were periodic announcements that led passengers to think they would soon be moving. One announcement said a bus would soon arrive to take them to Minneapolis; an hour later, passengers were told the bus wasn't ready.

    At 5 a.m., the flight got clearance again. But by then, its crew had worked more than the legal limit of hours. Another crew had to be flown in.

    It wasn't until 6 a.m. that ExpressJet let the passengers off the plane to enter the terminal. And it took 2 1/2 hours for the passengers to re-board the same plane still with a full, smelly toilet to head to Minneapolis. They landed at 9:15 a.m., almost a half-day after leaving Houston.

    Kristy Nicholas, a spokeswoman for ExpressJet Airlines, said passengers couldn't go to the Rochester terminal to wait out the storms because they would have needed to redo their security screening and screeners had gone home.


    The airport's manager, Steven Leqve, said that wasn't true. Leqve said passengers could have waited in a secure area until their plane was cleared to leave.

    "This is not an airport issue. This is an airline issue," he said.

    The Rochester airport took in another diverted flight, a Northwest plane from Phoenix, just before Flight 2816 landed. The more than 50 passengers on that plane were placed on a bus and made it to Minneapolis by 1:30 a.m.

    Leqve said the Delta manager in Rochester offered space on the bus to Continental, which declined.

    Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee's aviation operations subcommittee, said the incident underscored the need to pass legislation setting a three-hour limit for an airplane to sit on the tarmac without passengers being allowed off. A so-called passenger bill of rights that would do just that recently passed the Commerce Committee and awaits action in the full Senate.

    "There needs to be some common sense used in these cases and it seems to me these folks have a right to complain very seriously about what happened," Dorgan said.

    The Air Transport Association, which represents a group of airlines that includes Continental, has resisted the legislation in the past.

    Spokeswoman Elizabeth Merida said the group continues to believe the legislation "will ultimately end up inconveniencing passengers rather than helping them."
    Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the bill would be considered by the Senate "at some point in the fall."

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_nightmare_flight



    Gotta love regulations.
    what ever happens......happens

  • #2
    This bill of rights needs to pass; since the airlines and airports failed to regulate themselves, the government will need to manage this aspect.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Vincentomoh View Post
      This bill of rights needs to pass; since the airlines and airports failed to regulate themselves, the government will need to manage this aspect.
      Bull!!! That is very unfortunate, however a very similar situation happened in YYZ last Tuesday (Aug 4) when the forecasted thundershower that was expected to affect the airport for 45 min lasted 4.5 hours. Flights were still able to land/arrive and they were stacked in the de-ice bays, Cargo and on the taxiways. It was ATC and the GTAA (Greater Toronto Airports Authority) that decided which flights would get which gates even though the airlines knew which flights needed to be gated ASAP. As well the Infield Terminal sat empty for the entire storm and finally it was opened way after the storm had passed. The airlines had no say in the parking of their flights and some pax sat for a long time.

      If you want a Bill of Rights then it better include the airport authorities

      Comment


      • #4
        So there's no bull; it's just that the airport authorities also need to be included.

        Apparently in this case ExpressJet is seeming to be at fault.

        Originally posted by ptbodale View Post
        Bull!!! That is very unfortunate, however a very similar situation happened in YYZ last Tuesday (Aug 4) when the forecasted thundershower that was expected to affect the airport for 45 min lasted 4.5 hours. Flights were still able to land/arrive and they were stacked in the de-ice bays, Cargo and on the taxiways. It was ATC and the GTAA (Greater Toronto Airports Authority) that decided which flights would get which gates even though the airlines knew which flights needed to be gated ASAP. As well the Infield Terminal sat empty for the entire storm and finally it was opened way after the storm had passed. The airlines had no say in the parking of their flights and some pax sat for a long time.

        If you want a Bill of Rights then it better include the airport authorities

        Comment


        • #5
          There is no excuse for something like this to take place. The Crew, Airline, and Airport are all at fault here. These passengers were held against their will in an unsafe and unhealthy environment. If one of these passengers was a diabetic who needed food, which wasn't provided they could have gone into diabetic shock and died. No doubt I'm sure a lawsuit will be filed and rightly so... Total disgrace...

          Comment


          • #6
            The problem is these days is the fact that many passengers are expecting a lot more from airlines and pay a whole lot less.

            Now with that said it is quite wrong for Express Jet to have left those passengers in the plane, but they said the reason was because there was no security staff there.

            Now a Passenger Bill Of Rights will help, but as stated before everyone must be in the same band wagon. The airlines, airport authorities as well as the TSA and other government agencies, they of course are the ones that are hired by the government and the government is the ones who are onstating that.

            BTW I commend you Eric for stating that it was Express Jet and not Continental, many news agancies have been saying that it was Continental and that is just quite annoying.

            Nehal

            Comment


            • #7
              The problem is these days is the fact that many passengers are expecting a lot more from airlines and pay a whole lot less.
              I think its a reasonable expectation not to be trapped in a plane overnight What does high expectations have to do with an airline holding you overnight against your wishes? I don't recall that being in the contract of carriage.

              BTW I commend you Eric for stating that it was Express Jet and not Continental, many news agancies have been saying that it was Continental and that is just quite annoying.
              From a customer and the PR perspective this point is meaningless....CO sold you the ticket, CO put their name on the plane, they share responsibility here. Expressjet is a contracted agent of Continental and therefor CO needs to stand behind their customers and not shift the blame but apologize for the poor ordeal their partner put them through.

              I often hear about how customers are this and that...well without the customers the airlines or any other for profit company is out of business. I think the fact is the majority of customers have very reasonable expectations that are easily meet. You'll always have vocal individuals who make unheard of demands but at the end of the day most people are fair and reasonable.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by tommyalf View Post
                I think its a reasonable expectation not to be trapped in a plane overnight What does high expectations have to do with an airline holding you overnight against your wishes? I don't recall that being in the contract of carriage.
                True it was wrong for them to leave them in the plane for that long. There is also one more thing to add to the question. Did the Captain and First Officer as well as the Flight Attendants stay with them. If so then it is a lot different.

                Though it is not right that they had to stay on the plane that long, no where on Continental Airlines website does it state that Continental Airlines must let the passengers out and give them a hotel room for free for a weather related delay. Though I do agree with you that this situation could have been handled a whole lot better.

                Originally posted by tommyalf View Post
                From a customer and the PR perspective this point is meaningless....CO sold you the ticket, CO put their name on the plane, they share responsibility here. Expressjet is a contracted agent of Continental and therefor CO needs to stand behind their customers and not shift the blame but apologize for the poor ordeal their partner put them through.
                The problem is that Continental Airlines is not providing the service. They do not have full power over everything that Express Jet does. So even though Continental gave the contract to Express Jet, they are going to get full blame for that and if a passenger sues or something, Continental should not even say a word about Express Jet and have to pay everything. In this day and age, I doubt Continental would do that. They would probably give a portion of the bill to Express Jet for being the operator involved. BTW Express Jet is just as at fault as Continental right now.

                Originally posted by tommyalf View Post
                I often hear about how customers are this and that...well without the customers the airlines or any other for profit company is out of business. I think the fact is the majority of customers have very reasonable expectations that are easily meet. You'll always have vocal individuals who make unheard of demands but at the end of the day most people are fair and reasonable.
                Okay, some costumers make reasonable expectations, that are not met, because the Flight Attendant or Gate Agent is having a bad day. I also agree that there is probably a reason to why they are saying no to the request.

                For instance. On a flight that I took from YYZ-LGA there was a person siting infront of me complaining when we had a 5 minute delay on the ground, because of ATC in New York. This individual kept on complaining that the airline was doing something and demanded that he was given a free meal for the delay. When that request was denied he kept on hasseling the Flight Attendant for various reasons.

                Nehal

                Comment


                • #9
                  My first question was "What the hell was the pilot-in-command doing?"

                  Very very bad performance on his part. If I was him I would be calling and screaming at someone to have this taken care of. Maybe he was, but why have we not heard this? As PIC he is the only one ultimately responsible for that aircraft.
                  Tanner Johnson - Owner
                  twenty53 Photography

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tanner_J View Post
                    My first question was "What the hell was the pilot-in-command doing?"

                    Very very bad performance on his part. If I was him I would be calling and screaming at someone to have this taken care of. Maybe he was, but why have we not heard this? As PIC he is the only one ultimately responsible for that aircraft.

                    Agreed, the captain should have been more forceful...in this case it seems that no one wanted to step up and take the initiative, i.e., take responsibility for the passengers being allowed off the plane and ultimately making it to MSP quicker than they did. Too much "passing the buck" in this situation.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I would agree with you there tommyalf, lawsuit(s) will most likely definitly be coming. There are too many things that could have gone wrong but didn't, like you said, "If one of these passengers was a diabetic...", or possibly the toilet could have broken down, who knows.

                      I'm just shocked that this went on for so long until the passengers were able to get off. This reminds me of a time that I was leaving Kalamazoo to Chicago on the last American Eagle and commercial flight out. We left the gate and soon after stopped on the taxiway, mearly a couple yards from the terminal. ATC in Chicago apparently grounded us as storms were over Lake Michigan and we had to wait until they saw it safe to fly. We, the passengers, waited for 2 hours when the FA onboard said that we would be going back to the terminal to deboard and wait it out. There were no one in the terminal except for us and a couple of employees at the airport, screeners were gone. The Captain and the F/O explaned to us what was the delay all about and asked us whether or not to wait it out or cancel. After an hour or so, we reboarded and flew to Chicago.

                      The point I'm trying to say is that we were able to DEBOARD the plane and HANG OUT around the terminal, the ExpressJet passengers weren't allowed too. We weren't "re-screened" by anyone and we just hanged out in front of the gate until we were told to reboard. So much for what the ExpressJet spokeswoman for saying,

                      "passengers couldn't go to the Rochester terminal to wait out the storms because they would have needed to redo their security screening and screeners had gone home.".

                      We did none of that, just the complete opposite. This is rediculous what ExpressJet did.
                      what ever happens......happens

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tanner_J View Post
                        My first question was "What the hell was the pilot-in-command doing?"
                        In the YYZ situation it didn't matter what the pilot or the airline was saying. The GTAA/Transport Canada did what they wanted.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ptbodale View Post
                          Bull!!! That is very unfortunate, however a very similar situation happened in YYZ last Tuesday (Aug 4) when the forecasted thundershower that was expected to affect the airport for 45 min lasted 4.5 hours. Flights were still able to land/arrive and they were stacked in the de-ice bays, Cargo and on the taxiways. It was ATC and the GTAA (Greater Toronto Airports Authority) that decided which flights would get which gates even though the airlines knew which flights needed to be gated ASAP. As well the Infield Terminal sat empty for the entire storm and finally it was opened way after the storm had passed. The airlines had no say in the parking of their flights and some pax sat for a long time.

                          If you want a Bill of Rights then it better include the airport authorities
                          Not correct.
                          ATC has absolutely no say in assigning gates.
                          Please do not pass on blame to Air Traffic for the fiasco of that night.

                          In the ACC we were listening to the Air Canada company frequency - lots of very pissed off pilots, and frankly a whole load of AC personnel that didnt seem to have a clue what they were doing.

                          ATC is simply told which gate the aircraft is parking at, and its our job to get them safely to that gate, nothing more.

                          As for the GTAA - well I'm not going to go there on a public forum.
                          Garry Lewis

                          Air Team Images - www.airteamimages.com
                          Air Traffic Controller - Toronto ACC (West Low)

                          https://flic.kr/ps/AAWk8

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by atco View Post
                            Not correct.

                            As for the GTAA - well I'm not going to go there on a public forum.
                            We were told by the pilots that ATC had told them to "sit there". We were trying to park the flights in order to make the crew connections and save as many passenger connections as possible.

                            You are right about the GTAA. The RMU, all GTAA people, and it is a mess on a good day. The confusion on the AC side was from the GTAA refusing to let AC bring in the flights they wanted and getting mixed messages from the GTAA.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Makes sense - had to figure the GTAA would be behind the chaos.

                              Not sure exactly what happened up in the Tower, as I'm not there.
                              Trust me for the guys on ground they don't want aircraft parked all over the airport, if anyone was told to hold position, this instruction would have come from elsewhere - you can probably guess where.
                              ATC would not hold an aircraft that had an open gate, the only possible reason could be the location of the aircraft meant it was either blocked from getting to the gate, or the controllers workload was such that the route to the gate was so complex and created so many confliction points with other moving traffic that he simply was simply overloaded to the point where it was safer to keep the aircraft where it was.
                              Garry Lewis

                              Air Team Images - www.airteamimages.com
                              Air Traffic Controller - Toronto ACC (West Low)

                              https://flic.kr/ps/AAWk8

                              Comment

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