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  • August 21, 2009

    Pilot Pleaded on Behalf of Passengers, Was Ignored

    “A complete lack of common sense here.”

    Those are the words of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, commenting on the recent “trapped on the tarmac” ordeal of nearly 50 passengers in Rochester, Minnesota.

    You may recall that the passengers were heading to Minneapolis on a Continental flight – operated by ExpressJet – when they diverted to Rochester due to storms. But no one let them off the plane.

    Meanwhile, the ExpressJet crew has been more or less cast as the bad guys in this saga, for supposedly forcing their passengers to sit on that plane, for nine hours – but, according to LaHood, they were actually very good guys. In fact, they pleaded with people in the airport to let the passengers come in, but – nothin’ doin’. ExpressJet executives also got into the act, with the same result.

    The problem, apparently, is that ExpressJet was talking to people from Mesabe Airlines – the only carrier with a staff left in the airport at that late hour – and maybe they’d been appointed official-phone-answerers, I don’t know – but the Mesabe-ites kept saying, the passengers couldn’t come in.

    Sounds nuts to me. Where were the airport people? If they weren’t around, why didn’t anyone know how to get hold of them?

    How about some new procedures – like, “every airport must have a hotline for after-hours problems” – and every crew member should have that hotline number.

    Since I’m no genius, I have to believe someone else has thought of this before, so – why hasn’t it been done?

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