Napa, CA – April 22, 2009: Delta flight 510 from Turks and Caicos bound for Atlanta on April 10th, 2009 started out like any other flight for vacationing tourists who had spent a week in the sunny Caribbean paradise. The passengers, spring breakers, families, and retirees were tired and a little depressed that their vacations were over, but they had no idea how their vacation would end.
The flight was scheduled to land at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta at 5:04 pm, but the plane circled for a while due to thunderstorms below, and was ultimately diverted to Columbia, S.C. Metropolitan Airport where it landed at 5:44 pm. And there they sat, and sat, and sat. Five and a half hours later they were finally permitted to get off the plane – not into the terminal, but into a cold, stark room with about 20 folding chairs. Over 120 passengers, US citizens guarded by armed security personnel and police, and nowhere for men, women and children to sit but a cold, concrete floor. “One elderly woman had to be removed from our “cell” by paramedics,” said one passenger.
There were passengers taking videos during this ordeal. We urge them come forward so the public at large can see what it’s like being stuck for six hours on the tarmac, then thrown into a dungeon for three hours and treated like criminals in their own country.
Congress is currently considering a new FAA Reauthorization bill that several consumer groups have urged that passengers’ rights legislation be included that define specific limits for tarmac delays, and that would require airlines and airports to develop contingency plans for such emergencies.
This latest stranding event is outrageous. Here again we have senior citizens and children trapped without food and water. And neither the airport nor the airline had a plan, despite Delta’s voluntary “commitments” to deal effectively with these tarmac strandings.
FlyersRights.org has 25,000 members and is the largest non-profit airline passengers rights coalition in the U.S. The organization operates a toll-free hotline 1-877-359-3776 to assist stranded airline passengers. Please contact Kate Hanni at 707-337-0328 or or Kate@flyersrights.com.