Passengers Stranded on Plane in Connecticut for Hours

Passengers Stranded on Plane in Connecticut for Hours

HARTFORD, CT (AP) – Passengers on a Virgin Atlantic Airways flight say they were kept on a hot plane without food or water for more than four hours at Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport.

Passengers told CNN that Tuesday night’s ordeal began when they were diverted to Bradley because of bad weather during a flight from London to Newark, N.J. They said they landed at about 8:20 p.m. and were kept on the plane until about 1 a.m. Wednesday.Passengers told the news network that people were yelling and screaming. At least three people fainted and were taken away in ambulances, passengers said. The aircraft was carrying 300 passengers and 14 crew.

It was like four hours on the ground without any air conditioning. It was crazy. Just crazy,'' passenger Beth Willan told CNN. There were babies on the plane. And we are in dark and hot. You try to be patient but people were yelling and screaming.‘’

Virgin Atlantic’s London office confirmed to The Associated Press that Flight VS001 on the A340-600 jet was diverted because of bad weather in the Newark area. Airline officials said the passengers were being bused to Newark on Wednesday morning.–P … Ho/7533086

Found this flight, but article says it was VIR1 en route to KEWR…something isn’t jiving. … /EGLL/KBDL

Also, Virgin Atlantic’s website says that VIR23 arrived more or less on time at KLAX.

This story gets more and more strange… Enjoy.


Airline: Arrest threatened if Conn. plane unloaded
Associated Press Writer

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The pilot on a Virgin Atlantic flight that spent several hours on the tarmac after being diverted to Connecticut had asked for permission to let the passengers get off the plane, but a customs official threatened to have them arrested if they did, the airline said Thursday.

Customs officials denied the airline’s allegation.

The trans-Atlantic flight’s captain was told by a customs official at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks that passengers couldn’t get off the plane until more immigration officials arrived, Greg Dawson, an airline spokesman in London, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. It took more than two hours for the officials to arrive, he said.

Storms diverted the London-to-Newark, N.J., flight. Passengers sat on the tarmac in Connecticut for four hours beginning around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday into early Wednesday in rising heat and darkness. Travelers said they were offered water but no food; some fainted.

A federal rule limiting tarmac time to three hours does not apply to international flights.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not receive a call from the pilot, and no one from the agency refused a request to allow passengers off the plane, said Theodore Woo, an agency spokesman in Boston.

Customs officers headed for the airport “as soon as we got the call at 11 p.m.,” Woo said. At that point, customs had enough officers to “escort passengers to a safe area,” he said.

Airport officials have said there was only one customs official at the airport Tuesday night when the flight arrived in Connecticut.

“That’s outrageous. If it’s true, it’s unacceptable,” passenger rights advocate Kate Hanni said of Virgin Atlantic’s allegation. She said she expects U.S. Transportation Department officials to listen to any audio recordings made of conversations between pilots and customs officials to verify the allegation.

Transportation officials declined to comment during an investigation.

Last year, the agency’s investigation of an overnight stranding of Continental Express passengers on a runway in Rochester, Minn., revealed the flight’s captain requested passengers be allowed entrance to the closed airport terminal.

An employee of another airline - the only person still working inside the terminal - refused to open a gate. Audio recordings showed the employee cited the absence of Transportation Security Administration workers in turning down the request.

The Transportation Department should consider including Customs and Border Patrol and the TSA in future regulations related to tarmac strandings, Hanni said.

“They appear to be a roadblock,” said Hanni, founder of “Often airlines tell us customs or TSA refused to allow passengers off planes.”

Two years ago, the TSA told a task force on tarmac strandings that the agency wouldn’t object to passengers being deplaned if they could be contained in a secure room inside the airport, Hanni said.

The airport called for customs inspectors around 11 p.m. when it learned the Virgin flight was canceled, said John Wallace, a Bradley spokesman. Passengers were allowed off the plane about an hour and 15 minutes later, when customs officials arrived, he said.

Bradley’s only regular international passenger flights are to Canada, and it does not house many customs agents, Wallace said.

Connecticut Transportation Commissioner Joseph F. Marie disputed a comment Wednesday by a Virgin spokeswoman in London that Bradley, which is operated by his agency, “isn’t used to dealing with international flights.”

Bradley has handled 47 diversions of international flights in the last 12 months “without incident until this one,” Marie said.

Virgin Atlantic said in an e-mail that it will not comment until it gathers information about the incident.

Marie said he will contact Virgin, the Federal Aviation Administration and Customs to investigate.

I can see part of the problem. The A/FD only states whether or not an airport has customs available, but not necessary how many. Diverting an aircraft with 300+ passengers to an airport that typically only handles 100 or less, will cause huge issues. I often wonder what airlines consider when picking diversion fields, as I once was diverted on a 757 to Grand Junction, CO, an airport that is not quite set up to handle 160 extra passengers, when there are other larger fields easily within reach from Denver.

Uhhhh, that’s about 4 international diversions per month. And they aren’t used to it? Yikes

The finger pointing has begun in earnest!

Official: Plane Sat For Hours Before Pilot Asked For Customs


A diverted plane that sat on the tarmac at Bradley International Airport for more than four hours with 300 passengers, some of whom fell ill, had been grounded for two and a half hours before the airport was notified it would not fly to its destination, an airport spokesman said Thursday.

It was 11 p.m. Tuesday when Bradley was notified that passengers needed to get off the plane, said John Wallace. At that late hour, the airport had to call U.S. Customs to open its office, which is in a detached building on airport grounds, he said.

One customs employee was working at the time, but the person couldn’t singlehandedly process 300 people and their luggage, Wallace said. Because the airport has limited international flights, the customs office operates only during regular business hours, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., he said.The Virgin Atlantic plane, which was headed from London to Newark, was diverted to Bradley Tuesday because of bad weather. It landed about 8:30 p.m., Wallace said, after which it fueled up.

The plane also had some equipment issues, he said. The airline could not confirm that or answer other questions Thursday afternoon, except to say that the passengers eventually were brought to Newark by bus. The company is still gathering information, a spokeswoman said.

“As always, the safety and welfare of our passengers and crew is of paramount importance to us,” the company stated in an e-mail. “Virgin Atlantic would like to thank passengers for their patience and apologize for any inconvenience caused.”

Wallace said it wasn’t until 11 p.m. that the pilot notified airport staff that the flight had been terminated, and that passengers needed get off the plane.

“Up until 11 o’clock, that was not part of the scenario,” he said. “It was a live flight situation.”

The customs operation was up and running in about an hour and 15 minutes, Wallace said, which he said “I don’t think … is an unreasonable amount of time.” He couldn’t confirm an Associated Press report that a customs official had threatened to have passengers arrested if they got off the plane.

A U.S. Customs spokesman could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

Some passengers became ill and even passed out in the hot, dark plane. A new rule puts a three-hour limit on the time that airlines can keep passengers waiting in planes, but it doesn’t apply to foreign airlines.

Why was the plane “hot and dark” if they fueled up?

Probably didn’t want to “waste” fuel running the APU.

The a/c packs were unserviceable. Had been at LHR yet VS dispatched the plane anyway. I’d think the APU was running but the lights were simply turned down, should have called for a GPU but BDL probably either did’t have one that fit or all the operators had gone home. Who knows ?

I still ask the question, who decides where to divert an airliner? It seems most of these cases is an aircraft diverting to an airport not accustomed to handling that aircraft or airline, and the resulting confusion over what needs to be done. Just like the only time I ever had to divert, we ended sitting in a town with no transportation out, no food in the terminal, and no airline staff present to assist with rescheduling. The only saving grace was the captain buying about 30 pizzas for the aircraft on her own dime.

The commander. He may consult or ask for advice from ops and/or ATC, but it’s his decision alone (absent a 9/11-type situation).

Never heard of a commander on an airliner. Maybe a Navy officer sitting in the back, but he’s rarely consulted on crew decisions.

That would be a Commander I believe, the commander is the flight crew member in command of the airplane.

I could have written “captain” but if the captain is incapacitated, he is no longer the commander.
I could have written “pilot” but that simply refers to who is flying the plane, not commanding it.

Commander may be an unfamiliar term to American ears, but it is correct trust me.

We say “Aircraft Commander” down here, A/C for short, which is the correct term when referring to aircraft.

in usa, is usually refered to when talking about military aircraft. civil is usually called captain by airlines/public, but govt regs do call them aircommander … _Air_Force

A/C = Aircraft Commander = PIC = Pilot In Command.

Easiest way to put it.



It’s not uncommon to have more than one Capt. up in the pointy part of the aircraft, a not unlikely occurrence in these days, it’s common to refer to the individual in overall command as the A/C or PIC, as Tyketto was kind enough to share.

On a commercial check ride, depending on length, you could wind up with four or more Capts. up front, a good time to distinguish the ultimate authority with the title A/C or PIC.

While the FAA uses the term “designated pilot-in-command” in the FARs, they are just as likely to use the term A/C in casual referrals.

The term is not solely reserved for use by the military.