Friday, February 16, 2007

USA Today Blog

JetBlue fliers get stranded on tarmac for up to 11 hours

By Ben Mutzabaugh

Fliers on one delayed JetBlue flight were stranded on grounded planes yesterday for up to 11 hours at New York JFK, according to various media reports. In fact, the story has been picked up by media across the nation, with coverage in the New York tabloids among the most brutal. Running under a headline reading "Jetblues for stuck fliers," the Daily News writes: "JetBlue must have had a brain freeze yesterday -- doing nothing as hundreds of passengers sat captive for up to 11 hours on 10 planes stranded on the Kennedy Airport tarmac. Some planes -- such as Flight 755 to Aruba and Flight 751 to Cancun -- made it to the runways, only to run into icing problems that kept them grounded. Other planes arrived at JFK in the morning from places such as Nashville and Fort Myers, Fla., but were unable to get to the terminal because the gates were full with outbound flights that never left."
Flight 751, which was supposed to be headed to Cancun, apparently was on the tarmac for about nine hours. "There was no power and it was hot," one passenger told WABC-TV News. "There was no air. They kept having to open the actual plane doors, so we could breathe." Another passenger said "the windows were iced over. It's like being in a soundproof coffin. You were being held hostage." As for JetBlue, the airline was contrite while acknowledging 10 "significantly delayed" flights. "We did not do our best," a JetBlue spokesman told Newsday. "No excuse for why we allowed those passengers to sit on the tarmac." The airline planned to offer affected passengers refunds and free flights. JetBlue's storm-related problems happened after just over a month ago American apologized to passengers on a flight that was diverted to Austin -- and subsequently stranded on the tarmac for about nine hours. That issue ignited a move by some fliers to revive efforts to get Congress to pass legislation that would serve as a "passengers' bill of rights."
Were you on one of these flights, or have you had a similar experience recently? USA TODAY would love to hear from you. Please contact Gwen Flanders (gflander@usatoday) with your story and contact information.

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