Nightmare Stranding of Passengers by Virgin Atlantic in CT Spurs Calls for Passenger Rights on International Flights

Jun 23, 2010, 14:14 ET from calls upon DOT to include International Flights in 3 Hour, Air Conditioning Rule after Trapped Passengers are Hospitalized, Urges Feds to Weigh all Legal Options

NAPA, Calif., June 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the wake of a four hour stranding where passengers were hospitalized after being stuck inside a Virgin Atlantic aircraft in temperatures above 100 degrees,, the nation's foremost airline passenger advocacy group, today called up the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for additional measures to protect passengers. The group urged DOT to include international flights operating in the U.S. under the newly promulgated 3 Hour Rule, which would allow stranded passengers to deplane after 3 hours on the tarmac. They also called upon DOT to ensure that international flights keep air conditioning on during strandings, as domestic flights are now required to do.

"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," said Kate Hanni, Executive Director of "Numerous passengers were hospitalized after being exposed for over four hours to temperatures well over 100 degrees- we are fortunate there were no fatalities."

According to news reports, and accounts by passengers aboard the flight who have contacted, hundreds of Newark-bound passengers were stuck for four hours on the tarmac in extreme temperatures, with no air conditioning, after weather diverted their flight from London to Connecticut. Reports and accounts confirm that the aircraft's generators shut down, leaving passengers with no air conditioning and sweltering temperatures that reached 100 degrees and passengers were refused the right to deplane, despite their repeated requests to do so. According to eye witness accounts, several passengers lost consciousness due to the heat and had to be hospitalized.

Currently, under the new Passengers Rights Rule passed by DOT earlier this year, airlines must allow passengers to deplane after 3 hours on the tarmac and must provide air conditioning during strandings. However, this requirement does not extend to international flights.

"We feel that, based upon what we know so far, Virgin Atlantic needlessly risked the lives of passengers and crew, and violated the human rights of every person aboard that flight," added Hanni. "In addition to making sure this can never happen again, we expect a thorough investigation by the authorities. We are currently reviewing all the legal options available to the victims, including criminal sanctions against Virgin-they must be held accountable."


Kate Hanni (707) 337-0328