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Vomit and hunger as plane stuck on runway for hours

September 4, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Toilets ran out of paper, a passenger vomited over fellow travellers and another phoned emergency services for help, as an international flight sat stranded on a runway for approaching six hours, allegedly without adequate air conditioning, food or water.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is holding an inquiry into two Air Transat flights, one from Rome and the other from Brussels, held on the tarmac at Ottawa after being diverted because of bad weather in Montreal and Toronto.

A BBC report described passenger claims of being stranded for up to six hours without adequate air conditioning, food or water.

At least one traveller on one of the flights eventually rang emergency services with a 911 call. A passenger posted on social media footage of a male flight attendant on the plane demanding that the passenger who had phoned emergency services come forward and identify themselves.

The two international flights were among 20 diverted to Ottawa from Montreal and Toronto.

Montreal-based Air Transat, a major Canadian leisure airline, is blaming factors beyond its control, including long waits for fuel. Pilot Yves St-Laurent has testified that the tarmac delay seemed a “lesser evil” than ordering all passengers off the aircraft, sending them through customs, and then arranging transport and accommodation for them, the BBC reported.

Cabin crew say food and water were running low but refreshments were available and temperatures seemed acceptable. Some passengers say it was very hot.

In one statement to the CTA panel quoted by the BBC, Alan and Patricia Abraham, passengers aboard flight 507 from Rome, said they were initially led to believe the delay was just a 45-minute refuelling stop. It stretched out to five hours.

“The bathroom had run out of toilet paper,” the couple said. “One young boy became nauseous and was trying to make his way to the bathroom when he vomited in the aisle and all over several passengers two rows behind us. The stench was unbearable.”

The BBC quoted Christophe Hennebelle, Air Transat’s vice president of corporate affairs, saying other airlines also suffered significant delays but Air Transat was being singled out after media attention over the call to emergency services.

The CTA hearing continues.

Written by Peter Needham

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