JetBlue Apologizes, As Feds Investigate Snow Storm Tarmac Delays

JetBlue has apologized to passengers left <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/jetblue-american-airlines-stranded-passengers-tarmac-lawsuits">stranded on the tarmac for seven hours this past Saturday when their flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Newark, New Jersey, was diverted to Hartford, Connecticut. Meanwhile, the U.S. Transportation Department began investigating why the more than 100 JetBlue passengers were left onboard the plane without food, water or functioning bathrooms.

JetBlue flight 504 was one of several diverted on Saturday due to a freak, early snow storm that hit the East Coast. According to a report from ABC News, Rob Maruster, Jet Blue’s chief operating officer, made the apology in a video message posted on blog.jetblue.com. According to Maruster, JetBlue diverted a total of six flights to Hartford’s Bradley International Airport on Saturday due to “various runway congestion and other operational issues at Newark and JFK airports.”

“We did not deplane those aircraft in our target time allotted,” Maruster says. “At no point this weekend was safety ever compromised in our decision making — whether it was our customers and our crew members — in fact, safety was their No. 1 concern.”

JetBlue on Sunday said it refunded its passengers’ full fares on all six planes it diverted to Bradley.

According to ABC News, the JetBlue Fort Lauderdale-to-Newark flight landed at Bradley around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, and did not move from the tarmac until 9:00 p.m. At one point, the pilot called airport officials and pleaded with them to send police, telling them he “can’t seem to get any help from our own company,” ABC News said.

Passengers told ABC News that they were told again and again that once the plan landed in Hartford, it would fuel up and fly back to Newark, assuming the glide slope equipment was up and running. But a JetBlue spokesperson told the network that the plan was changed because Bradley had been inundated with diverted flights due to the storm.

JetBlue says it is cooperating with the federal government’s investigation. If the government determines that the federal tarmac delay rule was violated, the carrier could be fined as much as $27,500 per passenger, ABC News said.

The transportation department is also investigating an American Airlines flight that was also diverted to Bradley Saturday. That flight, which had originally been headed to JFK after taking off from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, landed in Hartford around 2:30 p.m. It sat for seven and a half hours before U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents allowed the passengers to deplane, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Other flights may have also experienced excessive tarmac delays on Saturday. Kate Hanni, executive editor for FlyersRights.org, told CBS News she got calls and emails from passengers and worried family members regarding at least four flights that were stranded on the tarmac for up to 10 hours.

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