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Holding Passengers Until Weather Clears - Legal?  
User currently offlineJulesmusician From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 1881 times:

This incident is the first I have heard of a passenger saying they have been held against their will. From personal experience I have spent 4 hours at the terminal in the aircraft waiting for departure clearance due to a technical problem but not once have I thought about the legal situation if a passenger demands to get off. This situation sounds like it needs clarification and might have to be placed into the terms and conditions into flying so it cannot happen again - any people had a similar experience?

J

'Trapped' air passenger calls police for help

Luke Harding In Berlin
Saturday December 31, 2005
The Guardian

It is every traveller's nightmare - to be stuck in a snowstorm just as the flight is about to take off. But on Thursday one desperate passenger aboard British Airways flight 981 from Berlin to Heathrow decided to take matters into his own hands.

After more than four hours stranded on the runway of Berlin's snow-encrusted Tegel airport, the disgruntled passenger phoned German police demanding that they come and rescue him. The captain had refused his requests to get off, he explained, leaving him with no choice but to dial 110 - Germany's equivalent of 999.

Article continues
The BA flight was originally due to take off at 7.38am, officials at Tegel said yesterday. But with the heaviest snowfall of the year, the plane was forced to turn back to the terminal building when the runway briefly shut.

Three passengers got off at this stage. The pilot then decided to make another attempt at takeoff, only to find himself repeatedly stranded after clearing the airport's de-icing machine. It was at this point that the passenger called police, officials said, saying he was being held against his will.

Detectives called the control tower and ordered the pilot to turn back. Seven more passengers then disembarked, including the man who had raised the emergency.

Waiting police then interviewed them, establishing nobody had been kidnapped. The flight finally took off at 2.38pm, airport spokesman Ralf Kunkel said - seven hours late. Yesterday BA officials voiced irritation that the unnamed passenger, who had no luggage with him, had not got off earlier. "By calling police he delayed the flight even more," a BA spokesperson said.

13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineKaddyuk From Wallis and Futuna, joined Nov 2001, 4126 posts, RR: 26
Reply 1, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 1854 times:

BA Should have opened the door and just given him the boot...

If they were in the air, he wouldnt have just been able to "get off"...

This is just how airlines operate, they have to leave passengers onboard the aircraft because they can often get a slot and they'll only have a minute or two to get to the runway. If they have the doors open etc, it takes longer to get in motion.

Another reason why when delayed with ATC Delays, alot of airlines dont like to start drinks services because clearence can come at any time and if the drinks carts are out, it means cleaning them away without serving everyone...



Whoever said "laughter is the best medicine" never had Gonorrhea
User currently offlineDeltaGator From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 6341 posts, RR: 13
Reply 2, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 1827 times:

It sucks for the passengers but kidnapping? Held against his will? I don't think so. He wanted to board that plane earlier to go to London but unfortunately weather came into the mix.


"If you can't delight in the misery of others then you don't deserve to be a college football fan."
User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 3, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 1804 times:

Quoting DeltaGator (Reply 2):
Held against his will? I don't think so.

I agree. The decision is made whether or not to walk down that jetway in the first place. Anyone who is capable of living on their own outside a mental institution understands that weather can delay travel. I think the airline has an obligation to the rest of us to make the passenger pay for all our delay expenses.

There is precedent. I know of one case where a man lost a judgement in court and was ordered to pay a shipping company fifty five thousand dollars per hour for the time he delayed movement of a ship. (can't tell the rest of the story)

Perhaps we as crew, do not do a very good job of explaining, but on a snowy day returning to the gate can have huge impact on the operation. We might have to be deiced again (hundreds of dollars) we might lose our slot. With relatively short turnaround times at all our stations, that means that this airframe will be late for the rest of its scheduled flights today. That is not just this hundred passengers who get delayed but a thousand or more downline.

No, the plane leaves the gate, the captain is in command. You have surrendered your fate to the captain (and the rules he operates by) for the duration of this flight. If it gets to be a problem then banning cell phones as carryons is a possible solution.

edit: Had some further thoughts. In my years of dealing with this stuff I've seen all kinds of responses. Weather delays, and even maintenance delays are often really fluid situations.

Take MX, for example. We have a fault in some system. Mechanic has to come out, look at the symptoms we saw, discuss it with us, maybe call his supervisor and discuss it. It turns out it can be A, B, or C. He has to run some tests, or swap a box. It will take some time. How long? Not sure, because (1) He's never done this task before (2) Don't know if they have the spare box in stock. Eventually the cause will be known. Only then can they begin to refer to the MEL and see if we can go, or if it can be put in a condition where we can go, or whether or not the weather or other conditions relating to this one flight will determine whether or not we can go.

Weather delays are usually even harder to predict. As I said, if we return to the gate we get out of the departure line. If we do that we take our chances that (1) the weather will improve (2) the weather will deteriorate (3) someone will skid off the runway closing the aiport) (4) the weather will affect our destination (5) we will run out of duty time (6) et cetera

And people want to know WHAT WILL happen. Sorry, that is not knowable at all times. If I had such a crystal ball I'd be in the stock market, not aviation.

Sometimes even management wants to know exactly when we will depart. Most of them know better.

At the risk of "profiling" I'd have to say midwest farmers were the most understanding about weather delays. Hell, most of them have lost a whole year's work to weather at one time or another.

Personally I like to keep the passenges informed, and by that I'm talking about meaningful information. Problem is, they might not understand anything I tell them about weather and might not want to hear that we have a "pack trip" and we are trying to figure out if we can go. I say that and they think in terms of me trying to get up the courage to take a defective plane into the air.

So you tell me, what do I tell you?

[Edited 2006-01-02 17:41:29]

[Edited 2006-01-02 17:44:11]


Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineJulesmusician From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 1798 times:

The bad thing here is that the police recalled the aircraft to the gate to "release" this passenger, which is a precendent now set in giving passengers the right to have aircraft recalled back to the terminal if they withdraw their consent for sitting in it. However the passenger used their mobile phone in contravention to policy so the airline might have redress. Passengers will have to sign something soon I am sure, stating they will be liable for the cost of returning them to the gate should there be delays, and they insist on being done so.

User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17015 posts, RR: 67
Reply 5, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 1795 times:

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):
Anyone who is capable of living on their own outside a mental institution understands that weather can delay travel.

While I agree, this would place half the travelers I see at airports during bad weather in the "not capable of living on their own outside a mental institution" category. Big grin



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineBa97 From Canada, joined Apr 2004, 377 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 1781 times:

The airlines have a business to run. A business that runs on customers. Keeping the customer informed deals with most of the issue. Also, realizing that a quick check of who would want off may indicate a gamble run for a slot is worth having happy customers who could get off the plane. The situations (usually 3 a year) where I am "stranded" on the plane cover a spectrum of excellent crew information to me wanting off the plane at any cost due to complete lack of information and service (like you can use your laptops/phones now until we say no). I must say BA has been the best and US Air and AC the worst. Everytime I have had bizarre situations, the BA crew offered to let people off if we were at the gate as they explained the randomness of the delay and walked us through their situation. On a recent flight LHR to Madrid a good 1/3 of the flight got off as the 2.5 hour delay was going to clearly make their work trip useless. On another flight the pilot walked us through the line up and said if he lined up we would be #5 off but if he opened the door then we would be #25 as he would lose his slot. That explanation (true or not) made me understand and put up with things better.

Right or wrong a US Air crew told me they could not open the door to let people off, even though we were at the gate as they would not be deemed to have "departed" and thus would lose their slot. I would say a good 1/2 of that flight would have left the plane if we had been told the weather delay was going to be the 3 hours that it was.

In all cases, I understand they can let people off if they have no bags. You check a bag- too bad so sad. you stay as you can not expect a plane to unload you and your bag.



there is economy class, business class, first class...then Concorde..pure class
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17015 posts, RR: 67
Reply 7, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1774 times:

Ba97 explains it well. It's all about managing expectations. If the Captain says that it might take 3-6 hours everybody knows that and can deal with it. If the Captain says 1 hour tops and it takes 4 it's another matter.

Continual informing is a big help. I know the guys up front are busy, but 30 seconds out of their time every 15 minutes or so is not a lot to ask IMHO. Even if all they can say is "we're still waiting".

As for watering the cows, I know meal service gets in the way of slots due to the carts. But it's nice if the F/As give me something to drink, even if it's only a glass of water every hour. This is easily solved by the (yes, time consuming, but we're stuck anyway) expedient of running back and forth with glasses and trays.


Personally, I NEVER step on a plane without at least a book. If I'm almost done with the book, I take two books. In 99% of cases I have my laptop, headphones (and power cord if the plane has outlets). I always assume a delay. Then again, I do this a lot so I have learned to be prepared.

What I should pack is a club to deal with the "but I have to get home" people who think pilots control the weather. I could then also deal with the "but I called my wife and she says the weather is fine" people. And last but not least the "it looks fine out there" people, who point at the cloud free sky and don't seem to notice the gusting winds blowing rampers, warning cones and fuel bowsers off their feet.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineDeltaGator From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 6341 posts, RR: 13
Reply 8, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 1710 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 5):
Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):
Anyone who is capable of living on their own outside a mental institution understands that weather can delay travel.

While I agree, this would place half the travelers I see at airports during bad weather in the "not capable of living on their own outside a mental institution" category.

Never mind bad weather. I think half the folks out there should be in an institution right now. But I digress.



"If you can't delight in the misery of others then you don't deserve to be a college football fan."
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31679 posts, RR: 56
Reply 9, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 1635 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 7):
Personally, I NEVER step on a plane without at least a book. If I'm almost done with the book, I take two books. In 99% of cases I have my laptop, headphones (and power cord if the plane has outlets). I always assume a delay. Then again, I do this a lot so I have learned to be prepared.

Having a Book or a Laptop def Helps.
Personally I discovered the best way to kill time is play a computer game.Time Flies.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineGrbld From Netherlands, joined Dec 2005, 353 posts, RR: 3
Reply 10, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 1598 times:

Well this is quite a different consensus here than in the Civil Aviation Forum with a related thread on the TXL incident: TXL: Police Covinces BA Pilot To Deboard Passengers (by Pelican Dec 30 2005 in Civil Aviation)

Grbld


User currently offlineLogan22L From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 1556 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 7):
What I should pack is a club to deal with the "but I have to get home" people who think pilots control the weather. I could then also deal with the "but I called my wife and she says the weather is fine" people. And last but not least the "it looks fine out there" people, who point at the cloud free sky and don't seem to notice the gusting winds blowing rampers, warning cones and fuel bowsers off their feet.

I remember back in July being stranded at the gate at BOS on a UA 757 due to severe thunderstorms around New York City. It was sunny in BOS at the time, but there was a groundstop as all the flight lanes were clogged up due to weather diversions. As it was UA, I listened to Channel 9 for a while, and even other pilots were complaining a bit, such as: "We're heading to Milwaukee, can't you get us out of here?" The answer was the same each time: "All the flight lanes are full along the whole northeast corridor."

I will say that everyone on board behaved quite well, despite the sunny weather and hot cabin. We waited 3 1/2 hours before we pushed back.


User currently offlineLincoln From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3887 posts, RR: 8
Reply 12, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1506 times:

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):
So you tell me, what do I tell you?

Tell me everything you know.

I was once on a NW flight (think it was an A320, but not sure) MSP-LAX... Captain got on the PA and said "Uh, looks like we may be a few minutes late, but we just wanted to call MX to take a look at the XYZ, and they've decided that they're going to replace it. Should only take about 30 minutes."

(30 minutes later) "Ok, folks, they've replaced the XYZ, but our ABC is still inoperative, give us another 15 minutes and we'll be right back with you"

(about 20 minutes) "Folks, again, we'd like to appologize for the delay, but MX still isn't able to get our ABC working, but they've given us the the 'Thumbs Up' to go ahead without it, but we're going to have to shut off the A/C for a few minutes while we start up the engines".

[uneventful flight, wind up arriving right about on-time]
[engines shut off once we pull up to the jetway]
[cabin lighting goes off, emergency lighting comes on]

Flight Attendant: "Ladies and gentlemen, in the event of an actual emergency, the lighting you see would assist you in locating the nearest exit. Note that white lights lead to red lights, and red lights lead to exits. Please do NOT open the emergency exits. On behalf of your AAA based crew, we'd like to welcome you to Los Angeles, where the local time is XX:YY"

At the time I didn't know what any of it meant (which is the reason I can't remember so many of the details-- I really want to say that ABC = APU, but am not sure), but I appreciated "being kept in the loop"

Contrast this to my last DL flight (CVG-SAN) where we were sitting at the gate for about 2 and a half hours hours with an occassional "Uh, sorry for the delay folks, they're looking for the problem and hopefully we'll be on our way shortly".

(You know you're in for something interesting when there's a phone-book sized maintenance manual sitting in the jetway opened to a page describing how it is not possible to dispatch the aircraft with whatever problem was on that page (didn't have enough time to read the whole page since we were boarding))

Lincoln

[Edited 2006-01-04 04:44:49]


CO Is My Airline of Choice || Baggage Claim is an airline's last chance to disappoint a customer || Next flts in profile
User currently offlineTimT From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 168 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks ago) and read 1484 times:

From the MX side, (where I am), if something dies at departure, the FIRST thing I do is look and see if I can defer it. 10 minutes of paperwork and it's see you later. The only reason I can see to delay a flight for MX is if it can't be deferred. Most airlines have a MEL book that's got enough in it about the only thing you can't defer is a flight control problem. There are exceptions, but not too many.

I remember a few years ago NWA in Detroit had several planes full of people they couldn't get unloaded in a snowstorm- just not enough gates to get them all in. If I recall, it was as much the airport's fault as the airline's.

And as several people have stated in the thread- If the front end crew keeps everyone informed about what's going on, the chance of rebellion is pretty small.


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