We're Sick of These &%*#! Passengers Getting Stuck On These $#!@* Planes!

Hello, airline industry? Can you hear us? As long as passengers are being held hostage on your planes and in your terminals for 8 hours at time every time there’s a little bad weather, we’re going to write about it. We’re not going to just forget! According to the Chicago Tribune there was yet another grounded flight over the weekend where passengers were forced to sit for extended periods of time. From the Chicago Tribune:

Last Saturday, a United Airlines flight sat at O’Hare International Airport for more than eight hours during an icy snowstorm. For entertainment, the passengers got to watch the plane get de-iced several times.

Fury over such incidents has prompted a new move in Congress to pass an airline passengers’ bill of rights. Various versions would force airlines to let people off planes after a delay of three hours, make the airlines service delayed flights with food, water and clean toilets, and compensate passengers when the airlines fail to comply.

Now, we’re not definitely saying “Yeah, bring on the legislation!,” but we would like to point out to the airlines how completely reasonable the above suggestions are. Fresh water! Clean toilets! Oh, and if you could try not to drop them off somewhere along the way to Denver, that’d be swell.—MEGHANN MARCO

Stuck on a plane [Chicago Tribune]
(Photo: striatic)


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  1. nullset says:

    Is there a registration-free link to the story somewhere? (yes, i know about bugmenot)

  2. forgeten says:

    it didn’t require me to login to view it

  3. tjrchicago says:

    I can understand some delays. But 8 hours is beyond my ability to comprehend.

    I am a simple person, so I do simple things:

    At three hours, I call 911 from my cell phone. At three hours and five minutes I call local media. At three hours and 15 minutes, I call 911 back. At three hours and 16 minutes, I am exiting through an emergency exit.

    At some point, a stuck passenger is going to think the same way I am and proceed to exit themselves throught one of the doors. Yeah, they’ll probably be arrested, but somehow I doubt the airlines is going to press charges…

  4. Pelagius says:

    Not to divert traffic from the always wonderful Consumerist, but Salon’s “Ask the Pilot” has dedicated two weeks to debating the merits of legislation to address this problem – and has drawn hundreds of… energetic… letters because of his anti-legislation stance.

  5. Tallanvor says:

    Here’s a link to the specific incident that happened at O’Hare. I especially liked the part where the airline talks about how only 25 flights out of some 140,000 were stuck like that for more than 3 hours in the past 3 months. As if that makes everything OK for the passengers who were stuck on those 25 flights.

  6. Is getting stuck on the plane this way a new phenomenon? Seems like it’s happening more now than ever before. Is it just a result of heightened security since 9/11, or is there something else?

  7. joeblevins says:

    I am guessing that airlines have to pay money every time they gate. Or maybe, they still get credit for on-time departure, so they just stay out there.

    If you are sitting out there for more than 2 hours, they should be feeding you.

  8. jgodsey says:

    Lucky for me, I can no longer afford to fly, I drive anywhere. I wouldn’t be able to sit in their new micro-seats anyway without getting a blood clot. But I can just imagine myself after exactly 3 hours on the ground. I’d would seriously make them arrest me just to get off the plane.

    You should never be kept hostage on a plane longer than it takes to FLY anywhere in the US. That’s just rude.

  9. mathew says:

    I was stuck on a plane for 4 hours back around 2000. I came out of the experience with a lower back problem that has recurred on and off ever since.

    Why are plane seats still built to fit people from the 1800s? I’m 6′ tall, which isn’t exactly unusual since the latter part of the 20th Century, and my shoulder blades really don’t need a headrest.

  10. yougotjunk says:

    2 Weeks ago I was stuck on a Virgin Atlantic flight about 100 feet from the gate for 6 hours (5 hours till they cancelled the flight and 1 hour to return to the gate). They only brought orange juice around once the flight was officially cancelled. The only reason it was cancelled at all was that the flight crew ran out of hours. Had they had more hours I’m sure we would still have been sitting on the tarmance.

    Once dumped off the plance at 3:30 am they told us they couldn’t do anything for us, no hotel, no alternate arrangement etc. For me, bad but tolerable. To the 5 teachers with 50 British kids on the flight who then were camped out on the terminal floor I can’t imagine anything worse.

    That said, all complaints to Virgin were directed to an email address who’s auto response has this nifty nugget:

    “If your e-mail is about a recent flight you have taken with us you will be contacted by our Customer Relations Team. This may take up to 28 days.”


  11. Blackneto says:

    @tjrchicago: I was just telling my wife the other day that this would be my policy if stuck on a plane for an extended time.

    I’ll bet money it happens sometime this year

  12. Daytonna says:

    @tjrchicago: @Blackneto:

    I agree with you guys, Kidnaping is defined by wikipedia as
    “any illegal capture or detention of a person or people against their will, regardless of age”

    I am waiting for this to happen as I see less tolerance for airline hijinx in our society. There is no reason for people to be held on planes on the tarmack other than the airlines financial bottom.

    Buy that reasoning an airline holding you against your will for their financal gain could very easily be argued as kidnaping.

  13. Blackneto says:

    I fear it’s going to take someone dying from a stress induced heart attack, or someone freaking out and harming a fellow passenger or airline staff for something to truly be done about this.
    I nice simple rule of x hours after leaving the terminal the plane will be in the air or returned to the terminal will suffice.
    There doesn’t need to be anything else added to it.
    I think 1 hour (fortunately the longest i’ve ever waited)would be long enough.
    A plane shouldn’t be released from the gate if it’s not going to take off soon, thats a waste of time and fuel.

  14. Crim Law Geek says:

    I don’t have any proof or anything, but I would bet dollars to donuts that if a flight crew knows there is a chance the plan won’t take off for several hours they disarm (or don’t bother to arm) the emergency doors. Assuming you are able to open the door without being forcibly stopped, you will be left with the choice of closing the door back up or jumping the 20 feet or so to the ground. Personally, I don’t think breaking a leg or two is worth saving 3 hours in an airplane.

    That said, assuming I am still awake, I would personally support anyone who hits the slide after an unreasonable length of time (I’d say closer to 4 hours depending on the length of the flight and the aircraft- being stuck on a 747 is different that a CanaShitbox commuter jet). I would also join in calling 911 (if enough people call, they’re going to have to send someone if only to avoid the police looking bad). I would also assist in their criminal defense (assuming I wasn’t in the dock with them ;-) ).

  15. Crim Law Geek says:

    &*&^( comment system keep eating my posts!

  16. FLConsumer says:

    I too wonder if this is more of a recent phenomenon or is it just being reported more? I’ve not flown on a commercial flight in some time, dreading the day when I’ll have to do it again soon for an international flight. Surprised to hear Virgin pulling a stunt like this. Usually the international carriers are pretty good.

  17. Havok154 says:

    If you’re stuck on a plane for 8 hours, there’s an easy way to get off and you can have a lot of fun with it too. Just go ape-sh*t. Flip-out, screaming about the walls closing in, how you can’t take it anymore, and maybe throw in some hyper-ventilation while you’re at it. They’ll have to let you off, the other passengers too if they’re lucky. Then when it’s time to go, they may even let you back on the plain. Of course, everyone is going to be a little leery of you and may be keeping one eye in your direction.

  18. Helvetian says:

    @Blackneto: I fear you are correct. Usually these things don’t change until some dies or is killed as a result. I would personally go crazy, it’s boring and tedious enough to sit on a plane for 11 hours with meals, drinks, and a movie; but it’s another to deal with the stress, heat, aggravation, discomfort, hunger, thirst and inconvenience of a tarmac drama. I don’t know what I would do, but I see myself getting crazy by the 60 min mark.

  19. CoachRoach says:

    Ok folks, you want comfy seats, food, clean pottys, extra planes on standby, a tow back to the gate during delays? You really want all of these things? Ok, I hear you and I do too. Here it is short and sweet… PAY FOR IT!
    There isn’t a carrier out there that wouldn’t be happy to meet all of your demands. All that you have to do is pay the price. It’s all so simple.
    Across the board, the fixed costs are pretty much the same, carrier to carrier, really! The price of tickets (except for the taxes)has remained about the same for the past 20 years or so, while the costs of fuel, landing fees, gate/terminal rental and security have all gone dramatically up. Every single carrier is near bankruptcy for the second and third time. Exectutive perks asside, all other labor costs are below what they were in 1990! You just can’t have a champagne wedding on a beer pocket book.
    For those who want legislation and more regulation, you also know who will pay for it, don’t you? You will! You won’t get more comfort, you will get granola bars. You won’t get scotch on the rocks, you’ll get filtered tap water. You will get your tow back to the gate and then the flight will just cancel!
    I’ve been in the airline business for 32 years. I know how things go. I remember when the cost of a ticket Chicago to New York, sitting in coach would cost you nearly a month’s salarly. I remeber when we served drinks on any flight over 30 minutes. I remember when we served food on flights under an hour. I recall the Bloody Mary eye openers on flights departing at dawn. I remember when they had a dress code in Frist Class and even a short trip in a F/C seat cost you well over a thousand dollars. I remember getting another plane from the hangar when our’s broke down.
    We use to have all of those things that you, the flying public, want. You use to pay for it! Then along came guys like Freddy Laker and Carl Icon, who told you that you were paying way too much for the service you recieved. You believed every word and for a short time, you got a cheap seat and comparitively good service. Then companies started to go broke! Service to Moline and Topica stopped. The meals all went away. Wich was ok because, you use to complain about airline food anyway.
    Are we on track? do you get my drift? The bigger question is: Are you ready to pay for it? Really? Are you?