Society

Video: Passengers Locked in JetBlue Plane for 7 Hours, Cops Called

| by Michael Allen

On Saturday, the pilot of a JetBlue flight, which was grounded for seven hours because of a snowstorm, called for police when passengers grew hostile.

Two hundred angry passengers on a flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Newark, New Jersey, were kept on the tarmac in "disgusting" conditions after being diverted to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.

In a recording obtained by LiveATC.net, the pilot said: "I got a problem here on the airplane, I'm gonna need to have the cops on board. There's a cop car sitting in front of me right here right now. I need some air stairs brought over here and the cops brought on board the airplane."

Why was there a problem? The passengers spent seven hours locked on board the plane without food, water or working bathrooms on Saturday. Their calls to 911 went unheeded, but the ordeal ended when police and firefighters came on board to help a paraplegic flier who had difficulty with the circulation in his legs.

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Those wanting to leave were then told by the pilot they could do so at their own risk, as the snow continued to fall. Loud cheers greeted the announcement.

The plane had left Florida at 10am, but was unable to land in Newark Liberty International Airport because of the adverse weather conditions. It sat on the Bradley runway from 1:30pm until 9pm.

The Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection division is investigating how the incident could have happened with a tarmac time limit of three hours in the Passengers' Bill of Rights, which was signed into law several years ago.

If the government determines an airline has violated the tarmac delay rule, the airline can be fined as much as $27,500 per passenger.

JetBlue issued a statement apologizing for the incident, blaming an "unusual combination of weather and infrastructure issues," but seemed to blame Bradley International Airport.

"The airport infrastructure was just overwhelmed," said JetBlue spokeswoman Jenny Dervin. "The airport experienced intermittent power outages, which made refueling and jetbridge deplaning difficult."