Flight 2816: Continental Takes Passengers For a Ride

250px-Continental_Airlines_Logo.svgThe continuing decline of basic comfort and civility in air travel has been a source of continued complaint on this blog and other sites. Many have complained about how they book a flight with a major airline only to be shoved on to some small puddle jumper run by an unknown carrier. Then there are the horror stories of being held for hours on planes on the tarmac. A new story involving Continental Airlines Flight 2816 combines all of these problems into a nightmare where passengers were left on a plane with malfunctioning toilets overnight after being diverted from their intended airport. They were held overnight because the flight crew was over their limit for flying and the security staff at the airport had gone home for the night.

While consumer advocates have tried for years to get real legal rights and causes of action against airlines, this powerful lobby has blocked every substantive effort — even as the public helped the airlines with massive financial assistance.

This case shows how people have become little more than cargo in the eyes of airlines. The 47 passengers took off from Houston to go to Minneapolis. While they purchased their tickets from Continental, they were put on an ExpressJet flight. Due to thunderstorms, they were diverted to Rochester. However, once they landed, the crew had reached their maximum number of hours and were not allowed to fly any further. Moreover, the security staff at the airport had gone home for the night, so the staff refused to allow the passengers to leave the small plane with a number of crying children and malfunctioning toilets. They remained there overnight. They were given one snack and one free drink during their ordeal. In the morning, they were briefly allowed into the airport before being put on the same plane (with the broken toilets) for the flight to Minneapolis.

Beyond the huge support of the airline lobby, one of the reasons why Congress may not be willing to act on real protections for passengers is that they have their own fleet of luxury planes for junkets and just called for over a half billion dollars to expand their fleet of jets. Indeed, given how horrible the economy is and how horrible commercial air travel has become, one could blame the members for wanting the public to buy them luxury jets to go on European vacations?

After shoving its passengers on to the ExpressAir flight, Continental is now referring any inquiring to that airline.

For the full story, click here.

26 thoughts on “Flight 2816: Continental Takes Passengers For a Ride”

  1. My friend and her baby were on this plane. The flight attendant refused to give her baby milk because it was “for the next flight.” How are you going to deny a child milk?!?!?! CRAZY.

  2. About 3 years ago, on another airline and on a red eye flight, we were in line to take off. Turns out the navigational system went down. A crew was brought out to try and fix the system. They were unable. Finally, the captain came on and said that he was going to shut down the aircraft completely and then start it back up, he said kind of like rebooting a computer. That didn’t work. So we taxied back to the gate but by now, the airport was shut down for the night. They had a crew working on the navigational system. It’s now about 3 hours later and it looks like it’s going to be a while. We were allowed off the plane. Like others, I found an area to go to sleep while they sorted it all out. The bathroom facilities in the airport were available to us. While it was a real pain, the treatment by the airline was great. They did the best they could. Eventually, they get the navigation system back online and we board the plane. But alas, like in the Continental case, the crew had reached the maximum time of being on duty. They had called and woke up a new crew.

    I don’t understand why they were not allowed into the terminal until this was all sorted out. We were and while it was an inconvenience, it wasn’t a miserable situation like the those in the Continental flight.

    One thing I won’t forget is one of the crew that was working on the navigation system overheard me asking about getting contact drops. My drops were in my checked baggage. They were in checked baggage as I was unsure if I was allowed to bring on board liquid because of the new security rules. My eyes were killing me by now and I needed to lubricate my eyes. One of crew members managed to find some saline so I could lubricate my eyes.

    In my case, I really have no complaints. In my situation, they did the best they could to make us comfortable while dealing with the situation. I just saw people sleeping while they tried to fix the plane. We didn’t get off the ground until the next morning.

  3. CONT…..Besides this flight crew was asked to let these passengers off this flight and take a bus provided by Delta Airlines to MSP (an 80 mile trip). Since Delta already got a bus for its passengers (who were also rerouted to this airport due to weather) to MSP and they had room. I was told Continental flight crew declined on this matter

  4. Working for a major airlines my self, I think its wrong they left the 47 passengers on the plane for 6 hours on the tarmac. I’m sorry but you don’t need TSA to release passengers from a flight at the gate unless its an INTERNATIONAL flight. Plus if they try to blame it on Continental not having a gate at that airport, that’s just wrong too. Many flights are diverted due to weather especially in the winter months. So that flight could have cleared with any other airlines to us there gate that night and let those people off for at least a few hours. If the want to blame TSA for not being there, All those people could have sat by the gate till the new crew showed up (since the original crew timed out) while the plane was refueled and toilets cleared for the flight to MSP. Continental does have a big law suite on there hands for this. Whether that comes from the FAA or the passengers them selves for holding them hostage on a flight. Its WRONG ad UNJUST PERIOD….

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