Continental Passengers Revolt After Sitting On Tarmac For 5 Hours

Will July 29, go down in history as airline traveler’s Stonewall? 120 passengers staged a protest aboard Continental Flight 1669 after waiting on the runway for over five hours.

So passengers began drumming in unison on the overhead bins. The crew freaked out, one steward admonished them “for destroying airline property,” and eventually the police were called, who boarded the plane and disembarked the passengers Continental had said were “becoming violent.”

70 of the passengers later signed a petition which said:

We did not have water, food, toilet paper.. The toilets were clogged and completely unsanitary. Moreover, there were a number of children and older and special-needs passengers, including a diabetic and a pregnant woman, who desperately needed attention.

So…how’s that Passenger’s Bill of Rights coming?

Right There on the Tarmac, the Inmates Revolt [NYT] (Thanks to Melinda!)
(Photo: FlyGuy92586)


Edit Your Comment

  1. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    This reminds me of that story of the guy with the mini camcorder. Just do something that freaks out the crew, get the police called, and everyone has to get taken off of the plane. It just has to be something that doesnt actually get you fined (or arrested!).

  2. Jon Mason says:

    Good. It’s about time that the airlines and the airports realise that keeping people for this length of time in these conditions is just completely wrong. If more passengers were willing to make a stand and say calmly, but insistently, “this is unreasonable. let us off this plane.” they would have to fix the underlying causes of these problems. I said in another thread – a law is needed stating that once a plane is boarded and the doors closed, it must take off in 2 hours, return to the gate, or get the passengers off in some other way. Any passenger held longer is entitled to a FULL refund of their fare, and the airline and airport share a HEFTY fine – ie, enough to make sure that they will not let situations like this occur.

  3. “It just has to be something that doesnt actually get you fined (or arrested)”

    …wish it was that simple. these days it seems that society as a whole is oversensitive to the slightest “disruptive” situations.

    things will never change if people dont stand up and fight back.
    sadly getting arrested/sued/fined seems to be a common result of standing up for one’s rights as a human being.

  4. zentec says:

    The airlines have this notion that they’re doing us all a favor by being in business. Snarly employees and a ridiculous notion that even though we paid to sit in that nasty tube for hours, it’s something we do not enjoy.

    Eventually, someone is going to die from deep vein thrombosis from sitting so long in cramped seats, and then the changes will happen after lengthy lawsuits. But not until then.

  5. Jean Naimard says:

    Sue them.
    File a small claims court, subpœna a senior executive.
    Not for the money, but just for the annoyance factor. When enough senior executives are quagmired in small claims court or they get enough summary judgment against them, they will stand at a better attention.

  6. mantari says:

    I was quietly hoping that this might become the norm.

  7. JohnOB1 says:

    Consumerist, you failed to mention how the passengers were treated when they were taken off the plane… they had to file out single file and under watch of a police with dogs:

    ‘As passengers described it, once the police ordered the plane emptied, they filed out into the secure area, where some said they felt as if they were being treated like suspects.

    “As we walked down the hallway, we were yelled at like we were scary criminals by this female cop who had a dog. She kept yelling: ‘Stay against the wall!’ ” Mr. Niezen said.’

  8. MeOhMy says:

    So far the airlines have gotten lucky. Sooner or later there is actually going to be real violence in one of these situations. At this point the fear of a huge lawsuit should be enough to scary any airline straight.

  9. killavanilla says:

    It is time for a rich, lawyer type to file a class action naming all the airlines.
    Who wants to sit in a cylindrical prison for 5 hours?
    These flights get hot, they refuse to serve beverages, the toilets always clog and *surprise* people don’t like it.

  10. Cowboys_fan says:

    Love that NYT headline. Its a shame that it has to come to this but it has. WTG passengers, I’d probably do the same thing. This really should be a basic human rights issue. I’m baffled at how they can do that but its more disturbing to me that society puts up with it. We used to stand up and fight for our rights, now we just roll over and hand them all back.
    BTW, chips and pretzels do NOT constitute food.

  11. JohnOB1 says:

    @JohnOB1: Also, there was another report, Continental said something like, “we had 300 successful landings that day…blah blah blah.” As if that’s supposed to offset the nightmare.

  12. V-effekt says:

    This is a good thing if it was indeed not destructive, but disruptive. We don’t sign away our rights just because we purchase a service or enter a store. Standing up for basic rights as a group sends the best message to the country and to the industry.

  13. Bill Brasky says:

    Why I don’t fly, reason 4,156.

  14. mermaidshoes says:

    sounds a lot like being held hostage, except the “hostage-takers” have nothing to gain. haven’t people tried to use the emergency exits in any of these situations? this qualifies as an emergency in my book.

    also, you could totally *drive* from baltimore to newark in less than 5 hours. it’s pretty sad when cars can do the job faster than planes.

  15. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Not to take the side of the airlines, because god knows I’ve been stuck on a plane for 3 hours on the tarmac and was thisclose to staging my own revolt, but playing Devil’s Advocate, I really don’t assume that airlines have a vested interest in detaining anyone on a plane for an exorbitant amount of time. The pilots and the crew don’t want to be stuck on there just as much as the passengers don’t want to be there. I firmly believe that if they had their druthers, they’d be letting passengers off ASAP if they could. I think there are very good reasons for keeping a plane on tarmac with passengers inside. I don’t know those reasons, so maybe an airline could enlighten us — possibly things like insurance, liability, etc. — but I just think there are reasons they do this. It’s not because they feel like making 200+ people miserable for sh*ts and giggles…

  16. jamar0303 says:

    The answer is to allow more foreign airlines into the US. They seem to know how to do things- look at Virgin America. Now I just want to see Singapore Airlines or ANA set up shop in America.

  17. eross says:

    I will instigate this kind of disruption if I’m ever stuck for more than one hour with the door closed. We need to make these corporations afraid to hold us hostage.

  18. hustler says:

    If we had a passenger’s bill of rights, wouldn’t your president just veto it anyway?

  19. Ola says:

    I don’t like to solve customer service problems with legislation. If more people simply said that this was unacceptable and started drumming on bins :), this might get resolved sooner.

  20. morganlh85 says:

    WHEN is someone going to put a stop to this kind of nonsense!?

  21. God.. I’m flying from Chicago to Florida tomorrow… I hope hope hope it doesn’t come down to this. O’Hare is notorious for delays… Reading this post gets me so wound up.. I’ve literally been pacing in my office.

  22. bbbici says:

    I wonder if the depature and arrival times printed on tickets can be held as an expectation of service. any unreasonable difference from the these times would then constitute breach of contract, and entitle the purchaser to a refund.

    i don’t know how the air industry got away with providing such bad service, and has the right to screw people over for being mildly disruptive. i once saw a (black) guy get pulled out of a plane by police because he went to use the bathroom while the plane was on the tarmac, and responded to the stewardess’ bitchy instructions with a similarly lippy comment.

  23. zanhecht says:

    PINKBUNNYSLIPPERS: The airlines do have an incentive to keep people trapped in a plane on the tarmac as opposed to in the terminal. If the doors are closed and the plane is on the tarmac, it still counts as having left the gate. Therefore, the airline can still count the flight as an on-time departure. I know air traffic controllers that complain about this all the time — they tell the plane that they will not be able to take off for hours and to stay at the gate, but they close the doors and pull back the jetway anyway, and then blame air traffic control for the delay.

  24. Matthew says:

    It’s not the passengers, it’s the airlines that are revolting.

  25. hi says:


    You asked why they would leave people in the plane on the tarmac. The reason is the flight attendents get paid only after the plane leaves the gates. The pilots know this and help them get more money. If you want this to end then the airlines should probably pay the staff the whole time even when they are at the gates.

  26. jitrobug says:

    It really is a shame that there hasn’t been any video footage of these situations yet. I think it would do wonders to have video of the clogged toilets and useless crew.

  27. gibsonic says:


    record it twice using two different tapes(but conceal the tape swap). hide one and have one ready to hand over with the footage if asked by police, etc.

    post 2nd tape to you tube…consumers win!

  28. HeyThereKiller says:


    boy oh boy, I cant wait till video calling on cell phones starts happening!

  29. BritBoy says:

    @gibsonic: reasonable idea. I can see the airlines getting mighty unhappy with this and pulling a ban of all photography on board a plane (national securty reasons of course). YouTube wouldnt want to host videos that compromise national security.

  30. Mills says:

    I like the part of the article where they walk past the shouting police woman with the dog. As if going through an airport doesn’t make you feel like enough of a criminal these days.

  31. BritBoy says:

    With a diabetic and pregnant woman ‘needing attention’, what would it take for this to warrant a passenger to call 911 and request medical help ?

    I can see that in this situation (an international flight being diverted); there are immigration and security complications. But surely there are reasonable plans to deal with this eventuality ? What happens with regard to immigration/in the event of an international flight diverting due to a serious mechanical problem ?

  32. gibsonic says:


    if they don’t, then cnn or some other news outlet will…

  33. joebloe says:

    I used to be a Continental Elite frequent flyer but haven’t flown with them in 7 years. Their customer service agent provided horrible service back then so I’m not surprise it’s worse now. Their seats are so narrow and cramped you can’t even bend your knee. Their ffb miles is basically worthless because you can’t find a domestic seat without blowing 60,000 miles. shame on Continental and good riddance.

  34. startertan says:

    Delays are inevitable and we all know that, of course 5 hours is totally unreasonable, and I’m willing to accept a shorter delay (2…maybe 3 hours). I’ve heard the excuse before that they can’t go back to the gate b/c it’s no longer available or they don’t want to lose their place in line should planes be allowed to take off. I don’t know if those excuses are BS but in some cases I’m willing to accept them. There are plenty of things though that can be done to keep people happy:

    1. Have the airport (someone from your airline) bring out food and water (real food)…why does this sound like a bank heist with hostages now

    2. Let people walk around a bit

    3. Try to give updates and at least let people know wtf is going on.

    4. Don’t get attitudes (this goes for both sides, passengers and crew)

    5. Lastly and my personal pet peeve…LEAVE THE F*CKING AC ON! No one wants to sit in a hot, humid, @ss-smelling cigar tube.

  35. gusgus says:

    From the article:
    “One of the officers “told us the report they got was that passengers were violent and out of control,” Ms. Murray said.”

    Isn’t that libel? Isn’t that why the passengers were treated like this:
    “As passengers described it, once the police ordered the plane emptied, they filed out into the secure area, where some said they felt as if they were being treated like suspects.

    “As we walked down the hallway, we were yelled at like we were scary criminals by this female cop who had a dog. She kept yelling: ‘Stay against the wall!’ ” Mr. Niezen said.”

    The airline staff pull this kind of crap on every incident. It’s time for people to start suing.

  36. bohemian says:

    I did some looking to see what the situation in Canada is. The only stories or complaining about long flight delays had to do mostly with weather and there seemed to be far fewer incidents than here.
    They do seem to engage in the same security theater that we have here. Liquids in small bottles in a zip lock bag. Requiring you be there 3 hours ahead of an international flight.

    We have been planning to take a trip to Europe, driving a bit further to catch the flight in Canada is sounding like a better idea.

  37. JustAGuy2 says:


    #3 is right on the money.

    I’m kind of sympathetic to the airlines on a lot of this, but not on the communication issue. For god’s sake, TELL US WHAT’S GOING ON! Tell us what you know, what you don’t know, and when you’re going to know more. Don’t leave passengers in the dark.

  38. VA_White says:

    What they did is called civil disobedience and I applaud them. Sometimes the only way to change an intolerable situation is to be willing to go to jail.

    I just can’t believe it hasn’t happened sooner.

  39. gibsonic says:

    it’s kind of like at work here. We use to be able to get out of the building by about 5 or 6 doors on this end of the building. (flights use to be more on time without all this BS)

    however due to the thievery of some of my fellow employees (9/11, Dept Homeland security, shitty airlines, etc) we now have to go in and out of one entrance for the building with security searches coming and going (TSA, no water bottles, check shoes, no visitors to gates, etc).

    We have often half-joking/half-serious talked about as a group to all just go out one of the side doors to show how stupid this is. The doors aren’t locked for fire code reasons and we were told if we used them for anything but an emergency we would be fired, no questions asked. What would they do, fire everybody? Hardly. Civil disobedience as a group is the most powerful tool we have to protect our rights.

    Cheers to the passengers of the civil disobedience on that plane and double cheers to the man or woman with the stones (metaphorically of course) to stand up and rally others in the cause.

  40. queen_elvis says:

    It’s about time that people figured out there’s strength in numbers. Now if only they’d apply it to politics.

    I hope that if I were in that situation (and I’m flying to Europe next week), I would have the presence of mind to turn on the audio recording function of my mp3 player. Most non-iPod players seem to have ’em. You have to ask first in some states, though.

  41. b612markt says:

    Has this ever happened on a Southwest flight?

  42. SOhp101 says:

    God bless America, and God bless Bush! Thanks to the Patriot Act if anything that remotely “threatens” the well being of a flight attendant is done even if passengers are being treated like crap, the “safety” of the flight attendant will always be held in high esteem.

  43. Wormfather says:

    @jamar0303: See the problem is actually half airlines half airports. The airports just cant accomodate that many planes. The pilot and the airline company want to take off but are stuck in the never ending cue.

  44. nffcnnr says:

    @AlteredBeast said, “Just do something that freaks out the …: Like get on the floor, face Mecca and start praying in pseudo-arabic. That should work!

  45. hc5duke says:

    oh PLEASE! Bunch of whiney passengers! No, I wouldn’t be happy either, but getting pissed at Continental isn’t going to solve anything here – the reason they couldn’t get off was because it was an international flight, and they weren’t supposed to get out of the plane without going through customs, etc. Yes, they probably could have taken care of the diabetic lady situation a bit better, but Continental said they had provided assistance (sandwich) to the diabetic passenger. It’s their word against a DIFFERENT passenger (the article doesn’t have anything from the diabetic passenger) who is pissed off because of a 5-hour weather delay.

    What the hell were they thinking when they started banging on stuff like a bunch of 10, no 5-year olds? “Oh, maybe they’ll start treating us better?” If anything, doing that probably cost them more time stalling at the airport while the police were called over and such.

    On a different note, this is like the third time I’m defending Continental, maybe I’ll get banned for being a crony. Disclosure: I don’t work for Continental, I don’t own any stock, I don’t know anyone at Continental.

  46. bbbici says:

    the only problem with civil disobedience is that bored, excitable, and corrupt police/security people are armed to the teeth, just dying to deploy their various weapons, and completely off the hook even if they kill someone.

  47. heinzs says:

    Even if the airline took some of their customers to court over it, you’d just have to make sure the case goes before a jury. Imagine them trying to explain that case in font of a jury, with the testimony of other passengers backing you up.

    Hell, you could probably get away with pulling the emergency hatch if you were stuck for 10+ hours.

  48. JohnMc says:

    A much better tact would have been:

    * Each passenger rings a stew and says “I want off this plane now!” politely of course.
    * When the answer comes back no. You simply state “I am being held against my will. That is a federal offense.”
    * Each passenger does that in turn.
    * Then somebody picks up the cell phone to the FBI and requests agents be dispatched.

    Now I don’t know what the outcome will be because as far as I know it has never been tried. But I do know of a case where a stupid car dealer did the equivalent (eg was ‘inspecting the trade’ hence holding the keys). The FBI did show up and advised the dealership that either the customer has their car or we have the floor manager.

  49. Craig says:

    If this kind of thing ever happens to me I plan on sending the airline a bill for my wasted time.

  50. North of 49 says:

    once again, I wonder if the “no fly list” is really just a way to make the airlines more money. If you are refused boarding after you have paid your ticket in good faith, have they not just stolen money from you? Why can’t we know if we’re “on” the list before buying a ticket in the first place?

  51. downtownlaguy47 says:

    OMG – I was boarding a flight from Newark to LAX as the other plane was de-baording. I saw police get on the plane and disheveled passengers get off – I asked what was going on and a passenger confirmed they we stuck on the plane. After boarding my flight, and after the door was shut, our pilot informed us we would have to wait at least three hours on the tarmac due to weather. I immediately asked the attendant if we would have the option to de-board. The plane hadn’t left the gate yet, and after my second request, the pilot came on the speaker and said we could de-board if we wanted to. they brought the ramp back, and myself and one other couple got off. I was surpirsed more people didnt, but after talking to the passengers ont he other flight, i didnt want a similar experience. The flight was four hours late to lax that night. i had no trouble rebooking on the phone, and found my own hotel.

    raise a stink people and force the airlines to comply.

  52. molasses says:

    I am pregnant, and flying in November, when I will be about 5 months pregnant. I have already started having nightmares about being trapped on the airplane. I have to drink water to stay hydrated for the health of both me and the baby – and my bladder will be squashed by the baby size and weight. Every time I hear about a situation like this, I get a little more afraid. I can sit anywhere for 5 hours if I have AC and access to a toilet – I’ll just read a book. But how the heck can any company, any airline, any flight attendant, any pilot, any airport, whose employees are HUMAN, deny any person, pregnant or not, a bathroom for that long a time? The only way to guarantee that this scenario will not happen to me is to cancel our much longed for vacation. We are all at the mercy of the airlines.

    I am mightily afraid I will be in the situation that a simple polite request of “I am pregnant and need to use a bathroom, very soon, please.” will be met with refusal. In that case, I think I am going to have to start banging on my cargo bin, also. I don’t see any other way.

  53. LiC says:

    I recently had to fly internationally with two connections each way. Between the hours and hours flying, and then the hours and hours waiting in the terminal for my plane to begin boarding, I can certainly understand the frustration of passengers who are already ON the plane and aren’t going anywhere. 5 hours, hell 3 even, is an inexcusably long period of time for people to sit on a tarmac. If I was riding Greyhound or a public bus, I’d smash a damn window and hitchhike.

    Yes, this was an international flight and those aboard would need to clear customs when they got off. But have you been to an international terminal lately? I haven’t flown into Baltimore, but there is plenty of space to keep them without actually going through customs and immigration.

  54. ancientsociety says:

    Wow, just utter bull. I feel really sorry for those people but I also applaud their stand. That takes guts, esp. in the “post 9/11” USA.

    The lesson for us all here is this:

    If anyone (corporations included) holds you against your will w/o access to the basics of survival (food, water, bathroom, etc.) that is inhumane treatment and you have a right to demand it stop.

    Also, start bringing your cameras and camcorders w you in carry-on. If there is a delay, turn it on and start taping.

  55. balthisar says:

    What’s the potential consequence of calling 911 because the stress is causing you to have a heart attack, but unfortunately as with so many other people it only ended up as being a panic attack?

  56. Cheve says:

    Ok people , here’s the deal. I live in Mexico (and please leave racist comments out of this) and here, where a dollar is worth 10 times our currency there’s an airline which now advertises on tv that if you’re over 20 minutes late, they will refund your ticket, notice that you are at your destination, 30 minutes late, and you will get your ticket refunded. So how on earth are you guys, being richer and years ahead in technology and customer service can’t make that happen?

  57. Buran says:

    @AngrySicilian: Take Southwest from Midway instead.

  58. Buran says:

    @hc5duke: Uh, it’s called airstairs and a few buses. surely, that’s not that hard.

  59. hc5duke says:

    @LiC: I don’t know and you don’t know if they had international gates just readily available for them to stay in. And just because there is space to keep them there doesn’t mean that’s a good idea. From the airline’s perspective, had one of these people had TB or been a terrorist, and they had gotten out of the plane and went off somewhere, it’d be their asses on the line.

    Yes, they need some policy where, if a plane is grounded for weather delays and whatnot, the airport should provide some sustenance and offer basic maintenance (bathroom), but again, this is in no way the airline’s fault. I feel sorry for the passengers who did not participate in these childish banging and chanting, and had to endure the same outcome.

  60. hc5duke says:

    @Buran: Yes, it is. I stress here again, it was an international flight. You cannot get these people off the plane and walking around before going through customs.

  61. ancientsociety says:

    @hc5duke: No, customs is BEFORE THE GATE. Return to the gate and let the customers sit in the gate waiting area. No need to go thru customs again.

  62. fredhampton1 says:

    Are you kidding me?????? There are reasonable limits to what passengers will and can endure. 5 hours is entirely too long; It equals a transcontinental flight and that is far to long for sitting on the run way.

  63. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    Airline avoidance plan: charter flights.

  64. MeOhMy says:


    From the airline’s perspective, had one of these people had TB or been a terrorist, and they had gotten out of the plane and went off somewhere, it’d be their asses on the line.

    No, it’s the TSA’s asses on the line and if one of those passengers had TB (LOL) or was a terrorist, the TSA already dropped the ball by letting them on the plane! Why would a suicidal terrorist – having already made it through security – sneak back into the country?!

  65. hc5duke says:

    @Troy F.: How is that TSA’s fault if they boarded the plane in another country?

  66. bbbici says:

    There is not one solid excuse as to why passengers cannot be let back into the terminal. They are past customs and security, and would just have to re-show their boarding passes before reboarding. Give them a specific time by which they have to return to the gate. Let them sit at the gate until the plane is actually ready to depart.

    Sounds simple enough.

  67. MeOhMy says:

    @hc5duke: THought they were leaving from EWR. Who is responsible for security at the foreign end? I still don’t think it’s the airline.

  68. FLConsumer says:

    JohnMC’s thinking is along what I was thinking…

    Does anyone know what the guidelines are for false imprisonment? Is it a criminal or civil offence? Holding me for any period of time longer than I would (reasonably) desire would probably constitute false imprisonment. We definitely need a money-grubbing asshole-type lawyer (you know, an ambulance chaser) to file class-actions against the airlines each time one of these flights from hell happens.

    While this was an international flight and that does complicate things a bit, especially if Baltimore’s not able to process international customs at that point, they still can bring them inside a PART of the terminal and rope/barricade it off. If you explain to the passengers the reasons behind things, I think you’ll find that things will move MUCH more smoothly.

  69. elmyc says:

    “ON July 29, Continental Flight 1669, a 737-700 with about 120 passengers aboard, was bound for Newark from Caracas, Venezuela, when bad weather caused the plane to be diverted to Baltimore.”

    When I read the plane came from Venezuela I laughed so hard, being from Caracas I know that we will not stand this kind of thing, and I completely understand the reaction of my fellow Venezuelans (and other nationalities onboard) *I love my country* (but not the president).

    Even if it was an international flight no one likes to be in a plane 5 hours + the time of the actual flight, they could have let everyone back to the gate and wait in the terminal not inside the plane… but who I’m I to judge it was probably some high person in the terminal’s orders.

  70. etops777 says:

    The reasons people get stuck on a airplane taxing out are too many to name but since I do this for a living I will chip in.

    1.) The ATC system is outdated, overworked and understaffed. You can only work a system so hard before it starts to show stress. Anyone flying into the New York area sees that as EWR, LGA and JFK account for over 60 percent of ALL nationwide traffic delays. The airports are too close together, the airspace is too congested too move that much traffic around. has anybody ever noticied that EWR always has a Ground Delay Program in effect ater 1500 local. No matter the weather it is always in place, why because too many airplanes are coming into the region andd the ATC system cannot handle it.

    There is a way to fix it though. Instead of being stuck on a specific route, let us fly direct using the GPS or IRS that is already on the airplane. Why can we not???? The system is not set up for that, so we fly on virtual highways in the sky and are all delayed at specific chokepoints.

    2.) The airports are not big enough to handle the amount of traffic. Once you arrive at EWR, delayed I am sure, it takes along time to get to a gate, then you wait for a gate because the previous plane has not left the gate….thus they have a problem. Too many airplanes not enough gate space……

    3.) As a crew member I get paid either way. I get paid a min flight time and extra if I fly more than my set amount over the month. Neither I nor anyone else wants to be on an airplane with people for hours doing nothing. But what are out options……..

    You want to avoid the delays, do not fly late in the day and do not fly into the New York area. If you are going to New York use a feeder airport like White Plains. You will not have nearly the problems.

    The ATC system is always in chaos. You cannot fight it so you might as well work around it.

  71. XopherMV says:

    Blaming the ATC system only goes so far. Airlines determine which cities their hubs are located. Airlines determine how many planes are going in and out of each city and at what times. Further, airlines determine the size of the planes being used, with smaller planes translating into more trips.

    When airlines load up passengers on lots of small planes and schedule all their takeoffs at the same time, then of course there are going to be problems and delays. That is certainly not the fault of the ATC system, which only has a certain capacity. The airlines constantly push that capacity to the breaking point.

  72. sp3nc3 says:

    @Troy F. is absolutely right. Sooner or later, a plane is going to sit on the tarmac just a little longer than someone’s patience is able to bear, and that someone is going to go apeshit and someone will get hurt.

  73. infinitysnake says:

    It’s going to take some captive dying to get something done about this.

  74. formergr says:

    Sad to say I don’t think that’ll even be enough. Instead, I suggest it will take some captive who is a close relative of a senator or a high-up federal official to get something done about this.

  75. @etops777: This may be a stupid question, Etops, but is one particular time of day better to fly in than another? Are you less likely or more likely to encounter these kinds of delays if you leave, for example, in the early morning or late evening? Or is everything just so messed up that time doesn’t matter?

  76. etops777 says:

    Mid morning is the best time for flying. The reasons are two fold.

    1.) Early morning flight schedules can be disrupted by rest requirments for flight crews from the previous evening. Mid morning flights usually originate out of the hub city, thus the pilot base. Less likely to have problems.

    2.) Weather has a less effect in mid morning flights. it avoids nasty thunder bumpers and it allows morning fog to burn off.

    If I travel for pleasure I try to make it Saturday around 10am. I also avoid the New York area for connections all the time. Chicago is not bad as the ATC guys are REALLY good, they allow us to keep the speed up on arrival and depart multiple flights out at once with turns in opposite directions. Did I say they were good……Denver does good except for the occasional huge snowstorm but you can usually plan around those.

    Good luck out there on your flights and try to remember the flight crews are stuck in the same position you are, so try to be nice. If you have a problem hop on the cell phone and call the corporate guys. If you are on AA the pilots usually have the number of the CEO handy for that reason.

  77. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Let’s have a requirement that all airline execs have to fly commercial…..IN COACH. It’s the only way to improve the airline industry.

  78. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Actually that’s stupid. We seriously need high speed rail….I’d be willing to travel 10 hours to take a non-stop bullet train from SF to NY.

  79. jamar0303 says:

    @Wormfather: Then how about relieving the load on the big airports by having some smaller airports fly out to Europe/Asia?

  80. jamar0303 says:

    @IRSistherootofallevil: (should have included both in a single post instead of double posting but can’t edit)That’s what the US really needs- effective high-speed rail links like Japan has. Maybe the monumental delays we face in the airports now will get Amtrak to start developing an American version of the Shinkansen. After all, in a train station the delay isn’t half as bad as it is in the airport.

  81. Trai_Dep says:

    @Cheve: “I live in Mexico and…”

    Because the TSA is a United States malignancy?

  82. crankymediaguy says:

    Next time an airline holds a plane full of passengers hostage like this, one of the passengers should stand up and say, “Attention, everyone. I’m passing around a piece of paper and a pen. Would one person in each group please print their name and phone number legibly. When we finally get to our destination, I will contact a lawyer and ask him to institute a class action suit on all our behalves.”

    Either the crew would FIND a way to get the bucket off the ground or the airline would get its ass handed to it down the road.

    No “destruction of airline property,” no snarling dogs, just lawyers doing what lawyers do.

  83. balthisar says:

    @Cheve: no racist comments coming from me! I hope you see this now that the post is a few days old… pray tell, which airline? And I hope they code-share with American!

    Others: I’ve flown three different Mexican airlines that I can recall, and for the most part, they rulez! They’re about par on prices with the American carriers for the routes I fly, and the service is fantastic compared to what we’ve become accustomed to.

    Mostly I do HMO (Hermosillo) and BJX (Bajia/Guanajuato), but I’ve connected in El D.F., Monterrey, and Guadalajara, and I’ve never had a bad experience on a Mexican airline.

    I posit that the competition is truly more fierce in Mexico. Only 20-30% is middle class, and the motor coach (even luxury class) is still the predominant means of transportation. In the USA where 100% of the people are middle class (by Mexican standards), they’re able to treat us like sheep. Bastardos!

    Aeromexico, Aerolitoral, and Mexicana are my Mexican experiences.

  84. valthun says:


    Um the airlines are doing us a favor by being in business. If there were no airlines to transport us around quickly we would have to drive, ride a train, take a bus, or sit on a boat for weeks to get to our desired destination. So while you are paying the fee to sit in that cramped space it is your choice to do so, and they are offering a service that requires operators to spend thousands of dollars a year in training to become a pilot then must maintain their flight status.

    I agree that sitting on the plane for hours is ridiculous without some kind of service. But if they need to start serving drinks then they may as well pull in to a gate, because they can’t take off with tray tables down and they have to stow all of the carts again. However in most cases it’s not the fault of the airline, the airports won’t let the planes take off, and if they return to the gate they lose any priority regarding when they can take off again. Delays have more to do with how the airport is run, not what the flight attendants or pilot is doing.

  85. 2Legit2Quit says:


    because for some reason, the American airline industry is buried in wealth and monopoly and the government simply has its head up its ass.

    I don’t EVER recommend flying with an american airline. In May, I’m going to Italy, and luckily I’ve booked a CHEAPER flight with TAP Portugal out of Newark.

  86. JMike says:

    Dear Readers,

    Interesting comments by all.

    Please allow me to add my comments by first saying that it is most certainly obscene that the airlines (ALL AIRLINES) SOMETIMES (and that is a big sometimes!) treat passengers the way they do. I firmly believe that!

    Please don’t forget the statement I just made in the previous paragraph. I will make several statements as to how and why, but the bottom line is that I completely believe that statement.

    Some of you make valid, sensible and thoughtful arguements. However, other comments are written by, quite simply, the same idiots that none of us want to sit next to on a five hour flight. You know, the same people that check their brains with their bags when they walk through the front door of the terminal.

    Sorry if I have offended some of you (and you know who you are). My purpose in posting here to tell you exactly why situations like this occur.

    A few of the previous posters attempted to tell you, Dear Reader, why these situations occur but they didn’t tell you the complete story. Why? Hell, I dunno. Perhaps they have an agenda or perhaps they really don’t know diddly-squat. Who knows?

    In any case, I am going to tell you EXACTLY why and how situations like this occur. How you decide to deal with the situation is your call.

    Now, I am sure at this point, many of you are asking yourself “what makes him such the expert?”

    I’ll tell you what makes me the expert. I have been flying airline transport aircraft professionally for over 23 years. I have an intimate knowledge of “the system” that is known as the United States airline travel industry and my expertise in these matters has been learned and honed by working in this industry for over 2 decades. This knowledge affords me the luxury (Ha, that’s rich!) to say without the slightest hesitation, I know how things work and I know why things can get so screwed up so fast.

    I know why airline CEO’s do what they do, I know why politicians do what they do (and they share much of the blame for what happens in this industry), I know why the FAA does what it does, I know why passengers do what they do and I know why flight crews (pilots and flight attendants) do what they do.

    In other words, I could write a book on the subject. But who would read it? Perhaps you will, perhaps not.

    In any case, let us get to the task at hand and do so without delay (pun intened)! I would like to have a decent meal and perhaps a cocktail before I take my rest to fly you back from “Wally World” to your home. Don’t worry, I’ll be sober and legal for YOUR flight!

    If the owners of this website want to read more of what I have to say, they need to approve me as a user. I will then happily and succintly tell you EVERYTHING I know and how it can be fixed.



  87. globetrotter says:

    Three cheers for passenger chutzpah!

    I was stuck on a CO flight to San Diego – ON the tarmac, for 8 hours! Five hours of waiting later, the following exchange happened.

    ME: Can we have some snacks?
    Flight attendant (FA): Sorry, the captain does not want us to serve dinner.
    ME: This is ridiculous… It’s been six hours on the tarmac, and we are starving!
    FA: I can sympathize, because I have not eaten in six hours either.
    ME: Sir, YOU did not pay money to buy a ticket to travel on this flight – you work here!