When will airlines realize that when a flight gets diverted and things go wrong — you just should not force people to stay on an airplane for 11 hours with only a bag of pretzels to eat. What was ExpressJet’s (operator of the Continental flight) excuse? The TSA screeners had gone home for the night, so they couldn’t let anyone get back on the plane if they let them off. Oh no!
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says that the horror story started when a flight from Houston to Minneapolis was diverted to Rochester because of severe weather. In case you’re not awesome at MN geography, Rochester is only about 80 miles from the Minneapolis airport.
At this point the flight crew apparently hit its limit on flying time, and a new crew was needed. The company says it refused to let the passengers off the plane because the TSA screeners had left and “passengers legally couldn’t get back on the plane.”
KARE 11 interviewed a passenger who describes the scene on the plane:
“Everybody in the plane was kind-of moving, trying to find positions to sleep in,” Christin said. “There wasn’t any room, the plane was getting warmer.”
Christin says at least two babies were on board and they cried throuhgout the night.
“The smells were getting worse, the bathroom was getting worse,” he says. “The babies had obviously started going to the bathroom.”
He also says that no one offered the passengers any food after landing in Rochester.
The airline says the airport didn’t have enough personnel to allow people to sleep in the terminal and claims that they tried to find a bus but failed to locate one. In all the passengers boarded the plane at 7:30pm, waiting two hours to take off, then were not allowed to get off the plane until 6:30am the following morning. At 9:30am they reboarded the plane and finally arrived at their destination at around 11am.
Nightmare flight [USAToday]
47 passengers spend night on airplane [KARE 11]
47 trapped on ‘nightmare’ flight to the Twin Cities [MST]