I wish I could say I was surprised to hear that once again, airline passengers have been stranded and basically held prisoner inside a grounded plane for eight hours. But I can’t.
Thanks to the big snowstorm that blasted the Northeast U.S. yesterday, some JetBlue passengers had to endure such treatment. Never mind that previous such “entrapments” prompted the enactment of laws to heavily fine airlines for such things. Never mind all the talk about a “passengers’ Bill of Rights.”
The snow fell, just as had been predicted for several days, but in their arrogance JetBlue nevertheless packed and deployed its plane to Connecticut, only to have it get stuck on a runway in the snow. That this happened after all the uproar over similar incidents says a lot — none of it nice — about JetBlue and the way they do business.
That said, I still have one question about these incidents that has never been answered. Or if it has, I’ve missed it. Why can’t or don’t the airlines let the passengers off the plane? So what if they are out on the runway, a long way from the terminal. I’ll bet most would gladly make the hike back to the terminal, even in a snowstorm. Lower a gangway, drop a rope ladder, deploy an emergency chute. I don’t care how it’s done and I’ll bet the captive passengers wouldn’t either. Those who wanted to stay on the plane certainly could. But those who want to get off should be allowed to do so.
For that matter, what’s to stop a planeload of disgruntled passengers from popping open an emergency exit? If passengers can overpower a suicidal terrorist, surely they can (gently) overpower a plane’s crew and open an emergency exit. In my book, being trapped on a grounded plane for that long without food, water, or a bathroom would definitely constitute an emergency.