WASHINGTON – After being stuck for 11 hours on a parked airplane during a snow and ice storm, JetBlue passengers found out there’s nothing they can do about it.
There are no government regulations limiting the time an airline can keep passengers on grounded aircraft.
The airlines’ voluntary code of conduct simply says that during such extraordinary delays, they will make “reasonable efforts” to meet passenger needs for food, water, restroom facilities and medical assistance.
On Wednesday, hundreds of JetBlue passengers were stuck for as long as 11 hours in parked jets at John F. Kennedy International Airport during the winter storm.
Sean Corrinet, of Salem, Mass., spent almost nine hours aboard a JetBlue flight for Cancun, Mexico, that never got off the ground.
“It was like – what’s the name of that prison in Vietnam where they held McCain? The Hanoi Hilton,” Corrinet said, referring to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
He said the crew passed out bags of chips – the only food available – and periodically cracked the hatch to let in fresh, cool air.
The airline acknowledged that it hesitated nearly five hours before calling for a fleet of buses to unload at least seven jets that spent the day sitting on runways because of the weather and congestion at the gates.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said Thursday she will introduce a bill to give passengers the right to get off the airplane if it’s been on the ground for more than three hours past its scheduled departure time.