Continental imprisons 50 passengers overnight in grounded plane with no food, overflowing toilets

Continental Airlines diverted a Twin-Cities-bound plane to Rochester due to a storm, and then locked the entire planeload of passengers in the plane overnight for nine hours. The TSA had gone home, so the passengers couldn't clear security if they got off and left the airport, and the ground crew wouldn't let them get off and stay in the airport. So 47 people — including babies — were locked into the plane with no food and overflowing toilets, held prisoner until the airline could get its act together. Jesus.

"It's not like you're on a [Boeing] 747 and you can walk around," said Christin, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law. "This was a sardine can, with a single row of seats on one side of the plane and two rows of seats on the other. And they've got about 50 people inside, including babies, for the whole night. It was a nightmare…"

The airline crew on the plane reached their maximum work hours in the air, so another crew had to be flown in. The alternative of chartering a bus didn't work out. And letting the passengers into the Rochester airport was not possible because they would have to go through security screening again, and the screeners had gone home for the day.

What about just letting the passengers sleep in the airport terminal? "That was not provided as an option by ground services personnel at the airport," said Nicholas…

As light began to fill the cabin around 6 a.m., the plane doors opened and passengers were allowed into the airport terminal, Christin said. The airlines gave them one free beverage, he said. By about 9:30 a.m., the passengers were sent back on the same plane they had spent the night in — which by this time had no functioning restroom. They landed in the Twin Cities about 11 a.m.

47 trapped on 'nightmare' flight to the Twin Cities

(Thanks, Cliff!)