FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami/AP) – Federal investigators continue trying to get to the bottom of what happened to cause passengers from several JetBlue planes and an American Airlines plane stranded on a tarmac at Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport for more than seven hours.
Tuesday, JetBlue’s chief operating officer tried to make amends with passengers.
“We know we let some of you down over the course of this weekend and for that we are truly sorry,” said JetBlue COO Rob Maruster.
In an emailed statement, JetBlue spokeswoman Victoria Lucia confirmed that six of their planes, carrying a total of about 700 passengers, were diverted to Hartford as a result of a “confluence of events” including snowy weather and infrastructure issues at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport and Newark International Airport.
A total of 23 flights were diverted to Hartford, overwhelming the airport. Complicating matters was intermittent power outages at the airport made refueling and deplaning difficult.
Roseann Kozma from South Florida was on board the delayed flight.
“We were just wondering why…why they couldn’t get up off the plane,” said Kozma. “We didn’t know what was going on.”
In conversations with Bradley’s tower control, the pilot of the JetBlue’s flight 504 makes it clear something has to be done.
“Look, we can’t seem to get any help from our own company, I apologize for this, but is there any way you can get a tug and a tow bar out here to us and get us towed somewhere, to a gate or somewhere? I don’t care, take us anywhere,” said the pilot. “I have a paraplegic on board that needs to come off, I have a diabetic on here that’s got an issue. I have a list of things; I just gotta get some help.”
Meanwhile, Roseann Kozma’s husband sat in South Florida, trying to figure out what he could do to help.
“It dawned on me, I’ll try the local news,” Kozma said.
That’s when he called CBS4’s sister station in Hartford. After that, he said things began to move quickly.
“You kind of got claustrophobic,” said Roseann Kozma, “It was so nice when they opened the door and started letting the people off.”
Kate Hanni, executive editor for FlyersRights.org, said she got calls and emails from passengers and worried family members regarding at least four flights that were stranded on the tarmac for up to 10 hours.
It’s not the first time JetBlue has had problems with tarmac delays. The New York-based airline also made headlines in 2007 when snow and ice storms stranded its planes for nearly 11 hours at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
If a plane is diverted because of a reason within the airline’s control, such as a mechanical failure, ticket contracts usually state that passengers will be reimbursed for hotels, food and transportation.
That means airlines do everything in their power to keep passengers on board in hope that the plane will be able to take off again.
JetBlue said that passengers who were diverted to Bradley International would be reimbursed for their fares and hotel expenses.