Around 700 people were left high and dry for more than seven hours on a tarmac at Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport after their flights were diverted from New York City’s airports due to an unusually severe snowstorm on Saturday.
At least three JetBlue planes and one American Airline plane were stuck on the tarmac near Hartford for more than seven hours.
Without water or working toilets, passengers were living a traveler’s nightmare with many spending the night trying to cuddle up on cots and chairs in various airport terminals.
Andrew Carter, a reporter for the Florida Sun Sentinel who was on a JetBlue flight traveling to cover the Miami Dolphins game against the New York Giants, shared his experience with the media. Carter reportedly boarded his flight around 9:30 a.m. from Fort Lauderdale for Newark Liberty International Airport. According to The Associated Press, the plane sat on the tarmac between 1:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Carter said, "The toilets were backed up. When you flushed, nothing would happen."
Another passenger from one of the diverted JetBlue planes said the airline's snack supply ran low at the start of the delay and was completely diminished in a few hours.
In an emailed statement, JetBlue spokeswoman Victoria Lucia said the diversion occurred because of a "confluence of events including equipment failures at Newark and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport that prevented planes from landing in low visibility."
Frustrated passengers tweeted their irritation over the weekend. It was a common sentiment for those tweeting from Connecticut's Bradley International to say they felt like they were being held hostage.
Others remained optimistic with the help of a little sarcasm and a sense humor
One person tweeted, "I'm stuck at the airport. I have nothing but a pack of Altoids but I'm still happy. When I finally get outta here, my breath will be so fresh."
Others tweeted their concern safe from home and tried to sympathize with the airport dwellers in a bind. One Twitter user wrote, "7 hours! I can’t imagine."
In 2010, the Department of Transportation (DOT) introduced high consequences for tarmac delays that exceed three hours in the Airline Passenger's Bill of Rights. Violations could result in fines of up to $27,500 per passenger. However the DOT does not always enforce the fines.