VS001 - The nightmare flight that could help all travelers

Virgin Atlantic has blamed US authorities for forcing them to keep passengers on board a grounded plane for four hours, the latest phase of an escalating row that could eventually result in better protection for passengers landing at US airports.

A spokesman for Virgin Atlantic says that US Customs officials denied a request from the aircraft's pilot to allow the passengers to disembark and wait in an airport lounge, despite the fact that the plane had no air-conditioning, food or water and some passengers had fallen ill.

The flight, a regular transatlantic service between London Heathrow and New Jersey's Newark, was rerouted to the smaller Bradley International airport in Connecticut because of bad weather.

On arrival, the aircraft sat on the tarmac from 8.20 PM until after midnight, when passengers were finally allowed to disembark and were returned to New York in buses.

According to national newspaper USA Today, US customs has denied the accusation, although it admitted that there were not enough officers to start clearing passengers.

In December 2009, the US Department of Transportation passed a law banning US airlines from keeping stranded passengers in a plane for more than three hours - but the law doesn't apply to foreign carriers.

After the ordeal of over 300 passengers onboard Virgin flight 001, two of whom were hospitalized, federal transport officials are examining closely whether any rules were broken, with US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood saying that it reinforced his belief that passengers were entitled to "fair treatment" when they fly.

LaHood recently voiced his support of new requirements for international airlines to provide support for stranded passengers on the tarmac, but Kate Hanni, the Executive Director of consumer rights website FlyersRights.org, says that US authorities must go much further, treating US and international airlines equally.

"Given the horrific, inhumane and dangerous situation that took place on the Virgin Atlantic Flight last night, DOT must step in immediately to include international flights in the 3 Hour and Air Conditioning Rules," she said June 23.

"Numerous passengers were hospitalized after being exposed for over four hours to temperatures well over 100 degrees - we are fortunate there were no fatalities."

Last year, staff at Rochester airport in Minnesota were heavily criticized for refusing to allow passengers off a Continental ExpressJet aircraft that was eventually kept on the ground overnight with limited food or water, an incident that contributed to the passing of the legislation in December.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'