The 47 people on-board a Continental flight last Friday night found themselves on their own “three-hour tour,” a la Gilligan’s Island. Rather than taking three hours to fly from Houston to the Twin Cities, they were stuck on the tarmac in Rochester, Minnesota for nine hours overnight, not even leaving the aircraft. The flight, operated by ExpressJet, had been diverted to Rochester because of thunderstorms in the Twin Cities.
Nine hours is a really long time, don’t you think?
One passenger told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “This was a sardine can, with a single row of seats on one side of the plane and two rows of seats on the other. And they’ve got about 50 people inside, including babies, for the whole night. It was a nightmare.”
The airline seems to have plenty of excuses, but few answers. Just a few: They couldn’t wait for the storm to pass because the crew had already reached their maximum work hours, and another crew had to be flown in. The passengers couldn’t just go into the airport, because they would have to undergo security screening, but the screeners had already gone home for the night. And the idea of at least letting passengers sleep on chairs in a certain area of the airport “wasn’t provided as an option.”
I’d be curious to know whether the passengers were throwing around the term “anarchy” after a few hours, or whether the original crew deplaned because they were at the end of their shift.
Poor, poor passengers. Rather than arriving in Minneapolis around midnight on Friday night, they eventually landed around 11 a.m. on Saturday morning.