Stuck On An Airplane, On The Ground, For Hours
Like Prisoners On The Tarmac
That's how it felt anyway, and we were stuck for only a few hours. Imagine being detained on an airplane for five or ten hours with no food and without a working bathroom or air conditioning. It's happened many times before, and it happened again in August, 2009.
In fact, my husband and I had a very similar experience en route to the same airport just the week before. I'll tell you about it here, along with what happened to passengers stranded -- held captive, more like -- on the tarmac in Minneapolis overnight.
It may be years later now, but people are still getting stuck on planes just sitting on the ground.
Have you been stuck on a plane on the tarmac? - A quick visitor poll
Has this happened to you?
News Articles About This Incident on Continental Airlines
- Feds: Regional Carrier, Not Crew, At Fault In Plane's Tarmac Stranding
A poor decision by a regional airline was being blamed Friday for Continental Airlines passengers getting stranded overnight as their plane sat on a tarmac in Minnesota, federal transportation officials said Friday.
- Flight Prompts Calls For Passenger Rights
From a blog by the Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights.
- 47 Spend 'Nightmare' 9 Hours in Grounded Plane
Both Continental Airlines and its regional operator ExpressJet issued apologies to the 47 passengers whose two-and-a-half hour flight from Houston to Minneapolis turned into an overnight ordeal. NBC's Anne Thompson reports.
Our Experience on Northwest Airlines
Waiting on the tarmac
Just a week before this incident, when my husband and I were traveling to Minnesota on a non-stop Northwest Airlines flight (now part of Delta), our plane was diverted to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, due to stormy weather in the Minneapolis area. At first, we circled the airport, waiting for the worst of the storm to pass, but less than ten minutes later we were told we were low on fuel and needed to divert.
We then sat on the tarmac in Sioux Falls for a few hours, while every half hour or so we were told we'd be back in the air "soon." Part of our delay was apparently about paperwork and some light bulbs and a bathroom sink that weren't working in the cabin. Then the flight crew was about to leave because their shifts were up, which would mean we'd be stuck there overnight.
A hush-hush conversation eventually took place between the Captain and the crew at the back of the cabin, while passengers all looked on, hoping. If the stewardesses decided to leave, we wouldn't be able to legally take off without them, even for the short flight back to Minneapolis. Thankfully, the pilot talked them into staying on so we could get to our destination. There was a cabin-wide sigh of relief.
Then we waited for more paperwork to be completed before we actually did take off again. When we finally landed in Minneapolis, we then sat on the tarmac again, just a few feet from the ramp this time, because they couldn't find someone to guide us in.
My husband and I just barely made it to the rental car counter before they closed at 1am, after running across one of the largest airports in the country. If we'd missed them, we would have had to stay in the airport until they reopened at 6am.
So I guess, compared to what the people on the flight a week later went through, we should consider ourselves lucky. Still, it was a very unpleasant, stressful, and frustrating situation.
If You Have Been Stuck On An Airplane On The Tarmac... - Tell us about it.
What airline was it? When did this happen? And how long were you stranded? What was the experience like and how did the crew handle it?
There's more information below, so keep scrolling down. There's also a general comment area.
Video Made By A Passenger WHILE Stranded On A Tarmac For Hours
A Passenger Bill Of Rights
For Airline Travelers
PART 1: Why We Need An Airline Passenger Bill of Rights
PART 2: Draft Airline Passenger Bill of Rights
PART 3: You Can Help Pass Our Airline Passenger Bill of Rights
PART 4: Petition For An Airline Passenger Bill of Rights
Read them all on WeNeedAPassengerBillOfRights.com
You can sign the electronic version.
A Passenger Bill Of Rights - Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights video update with clips from Dr. Phil, featuring Ralph Nader and Kate Hanni.
More News About Stranded Airline Passengers
- Passengers Stranded on a Plane Really Are Stuck
From USA Today, including statistics by airline, by month and by airport
- Why Air Passengers Get Stuck On The Tarmac
From the Los Angeles Times
- Passengers Stuck in Jet on Tarmac for 8 Hours
From NBC Los Angeles
- At Least 4 JetBlue Planes Stuck on Tarmac
At JFK Airport, at least four JetBlue planes have been stuck on the runway fully loaded with passengers and children for hours. The planes were running out of food and water -- and the passengers were running out of patience.
- Blizzard Leaves Numerous Passengers Stranded in Northwest Airlines Planes
From the New York Times
- The Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights
- Held Hostage on the Tarmac: Time for A Passenger Bill of Rights?
From the New York Times
© 2009 Deb Kingsbury