Hefty Fines in the Wind

Mother Nature battered the northeast a week ago and made travel a nightmare.

For passengers on 6 Jet Blue flights and  1 American Airlines plane, the travel nightmare was magnified when the planes they were on were diverted to Hartford, Connecticut.

Storm At Airport

The planes ran out of snacks and bottled water and the toilets backed up long before they were in a position to deplane the passengers. One the news a tape was played of a Jet Blue Pilot begging for help to get his passengers off the plane and into the terminal. It was approximately 7 hours before the nightmare on the planes came to a close but even then the passengers were still stranded in the terminal.

Under the so-called tarmac delay rules put in place last year, both airlines, could be slapped with a fine of $27,000 per passenger, MarketWatch reported, a whopping $18,900,000 for JetBlue alone.

As I watched the news story I was horrified for the passengers. They mentioned a diabetic passenger in distress and a wheel chair bound passenger along with passengers with babies and small children.

But once the dust settled and I tried to look at the situation objectively I think there are some mitigating factors. First and foremost was the severity of the storm, a record-breaking early season storm. This brutal weather forced the flights to be diverted to  Bradley International which was experiencing weather related issues of their own such as intermittent power outages which  caused delays in deplaning.

These planes were not the only planes diverted. In a report I saw over 17 planes were diverted to Bradley pushing it over its capacity to handle the additional traffic along with planes that were scheduled to land there anyway.

Although the Passenger Bill of Rights  will fine the airlines, it sounds to me as if some of the blame in this case falls on the airport and a large part on Mother Nature. The pilots managed to land their planes safely in adverse conditions but then they were at the mercy of the airport  and it sounds like the airport let them down, probably through no fault of their own after… all there was a blizzard going on.

Maybe better plans can be put in place to handle such circumstanes. After all, this is New England and storms do happen. We are not even into “winter’ yet so let’s hope this isn’t a taste of things to come.


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