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JetBlue apologizes to stranded fliers
A cockpit recording details a 7-hour JetBlue flight delay at Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn., where overflowing toilets and no water were just part of the nightmare. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.
JetBlue posted a video apology to fliers on Monday, two days after six of the airline’s flights were stranded for several hours at Bradley International Airport during a snowstorm.
In the video, Rob Maruster, the company’s chief operating officer, said that the flights were diverted to Hartford, Conn., as a result of “various runway congestion and other operational issues” at New York-area airports. ” … We did not deplane those aircraft in our targeted time allotted,” Maruster said.
About 700 passengers were on all six flights, according to the airline. A recording of transmissions between an unidentified JetBlue pilot and the airport captured the pilot’s frustration at being stuck on the runway for more than seven hours.
The pilot on Flight 504 from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Newark, N.J., continued to request towing assistance so that passengers could deplane at a gate. “We can’t seem to get any help from our own company,” says the unidentified pilot. “I apologize for this, but is there any way you can get a tug and a towbar out here to us and get us towed somewhere to a gate or something? I don’t care — take us anywhere.”
Maruster did not address the recording in the video apology and JetBlue spokesperson Sharon Jones told msnbc.com on Monday that the airline was looking into the incident. “We don’t have any information regarding that audiotape,” she said.
The pilot at one point requested police assistance to help defuse a situation between passengers and also said that a diabetic and paraplegic urgently needed to deplane.
“At no point in this weekend was safety ever compromised in any of our decision-making, whether it was our customers or our crew members and in fact, safety was their number one concern,” Maruster said in the video.
Allison Steinberg, a spokesperson for JetBlue, told msnbc.com on Tuesday that delays were not related to gate fees, as some online commenters have suggested.
“Obviously, we would have preferred deplaning much sooner than we did, but our flights were six of the 23 reported diversions into Hartford, including international flights,” she wrote in an email. “The airport experienced intermittent power outages, which made refueling and jetbridge deplaning difficult.”
The Department of Transportation is investigating JetBlue’s tarmac delays during the snowstorm. Airlines that keep passengers stranded for more than three hours face fines of up to $27,500 per flier.
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