Passengers aboard several JetBlue flights diverted to Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport during last month’s Northeast snowstorm have filed a class action lawsuit against the airline. According to the complaint, passengers aboard the diverted JetBlue flights were stranded on the tarmac for up to 7 1/2 hours without potable water, adequate food supplies or working toilets.
Six JetBlue flights were among roughly 23 diverted to Bradley in Hartford, Connecticut, on October 29, after a freak fall snowstorm brought air traffic to a halt in much of the Northeast. In many cases, flights were stuck on the tarmac, and passengers could not deplane for hours.
Rob Maruster, Jet Blue’s chief operating officer, apologized for the tarmac delays in a video message posted on blog.jetblue.com on November 1. According to Maruster, the JetBlue diversions were the result of o “various runway congestion and other operational issues at Newark and JFK airports. In his statement, Maruster acknowledged that the airline “did not deplane those aircraft in our target time allotted,” but maintained passenger safety was never an issue.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is currently investigating the JetBlue tarmac delays at Bradley, as well as some involving American Airlines. According to a report from Syracuse.com, the DOT placed a limit on tarmac delays for domestic flights last year as part of an “Airline Passengers Bill of Rights.” Airlines can be fined $27,500 per passenger for a delay longer than three hours.
The JetBlue class action lawsuit was filed last week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. The proposed class is being represented by the national law firm of Parker Waichman LLP. The lawsuit alleges violations of New York’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, false imprisonment, negligence and negligence per se, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief on behalf of the plaintiffs and all members of the proposed class, according to a statement from the law firm.
The lawsuit names three passengers aboard three separate diverted JetBlue flights as lead plaintiffs. The plaintiffs allege that during the tarmac delays, they were subjected to intolerable and inhumane conditions, including rolling blackouts and malfunctioning toilets that backed up and would not flush. According to the complaint, crews on the affected flights also ran out of potable water and food for passengers. According to Syracuse.com, one of the lead plaintiffs claims to suffer “from anxiety, depression and claustrophobia,” the lawsuit says. She was unable to get to anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications which were in her stowed luggage.
Peter Cambs, an attorney with Parker Waichman LLP, told Syracuse.com that the JetBlue class action lawsuit is open to others JetBlue passengers who were trapped due to tarmac delays on October 29.
JetBlue would not comment on the pending litigation.