We don't know the sets of circumstances of this scenario.
Whatever the reason, a captain should not allow his pax to cook in the tube.
That could require firing up the APU or if unserviceable, even consider the option of towing the aircraft to a remote location and firing up an engine. If you have no information that guarantees that the issue would be resolved within reasonable timeframes (I'm thinking 15 minutes.), then this would be an option.
There is some legal stuff involved in that as the aircraft could be considered dispatched while not meeting MEL
requirements, if a tech problem was what was keeping it on the ground. However, the crew could have done it regardless and legally, by stating clearly audibly to the CVR, to the dispatch crews and to as many witnesses as possible (pax), that the aircraft would be towed from its stand and fire up an engine in the interest of the passenger's safety, but that the aircraft should in no way be considered as dispatched. Keeping a ground crew plugged in and the tow truck attached could have been sufficient to keep the aircraft "undispatched".
Depending on local procedures, this could even be done at the parking stand. At airports where there are no airstarters, aircraft equipped with bleed-powered engine starters keep an engine running during the rotation.
Once a replacement aircraft arrived, the aircraft would be towed back to its stand or unloaded with a bus.
A post-flight report would be filed by the crew for abnormal operations and it would end up in a filing cabinet without further issues for the crew.
The departures terminal at EIN
is pretty small. If there were other simultaneous departures, it would not have been an option to stuff the pax in there. Putting the pax in the arrivals hall could have been an option, but crowd control management would have required additional manpower, because in no circumstances should departure pax and get mixed amongst arrival pax. At EIN
, they don't enforce this well at all to start with, as you can see boarding pax crossing deboarding pax on the tarmac.
Alternatively, it may have been an option to unload part or all of the pax into airconditioned busses, if the terminal was not an option.
If the air is 38 degrees outside, the air rising from the tarmac on a cloudless afternoon would be no less than 40 degrees. Opening an aircraft door in those circumstances would not offer anything, but it could become a safety and security risk.
Most LCC airports like EIN
don't have ACU's available.
Too little information available, but it' still wrong to keep pax prisoners in a sauna.
If you can't help them within a reasonable timeframe, you call a local hotel nearby. If the expected wait time is less than 4-5 hours, consider a conference room instead of hotel rooms. EIN
is in the middle of a corporate village, where there are plenty of large conference rooms available, even on Sundays.
[Edited 2012-08-20 15:02:52]