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Even pilot blames JetBlue for 7 hours of tarmac time

October 31, 2011 | 12:11 pm

 Jetblue
A JetBlue flight, stranded for hours by the weekend’s miserable weather in the Northeast, prompted the flight’s pilot to complain -- via now widely available audio -- that he was getting more help from airport officials than from his own company.

A spokeswoman for Jet Blue wouldn’t comment Monday about the pilot’s complaints but defended the airline's actions in dealing “with this confluence of events” caused by the weather. She said all of the passengers will receive a full refund for their round-trip fares.

Flight 504 left Saturday morning from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., bound for Newark, N.J., but snowy weather forced the flight to be diverted to Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Conn. It landed there in the early afternoon -- and then was forced to wait more than seven hours on the tarmac.

Other flights spent more than their fair share of time on the tarmac at the Bradley International over the weekend, but it was Flight 504 that garnered the most media attention.

“I got a problem here on the airplane. I'm going to need to have the cops onboard,” a flight crew member told the tower in a conversation posted on LiveATC.net, a website that monitors air traffic control conversations. “I need some air stairs brought over here and the cops brought onboard the airplane.”

The pilot later told the tower: “Look, you know, we can't seem to get any help from our own company. ... I apologize for this, but if there is any way you can get a tug and a tow bar out here to us and get us towed somewhere to a gate or something. I don't care, take us anywhere.”

As the flight waited, the pilot took the time to thank the airport.

“Listen, I just want to put in my two cents worth in for whatever its worth. Thank you very much,” he said, according to news reports based on LiveATC.net. “It's Capt. Thompson over here on (Flight) 504 ... I think we've got more help from you guys than our own people.”

The passengers were able to leave around 9 p.m. JetBlue blamed the problems on the large number of flights that had to be diverted because of the weather.

“Due to a confluence of events, including infrastructure issues in New York/JFK and Newark, JetBlue diverted 17 flights on Saturday. Six of those flights diverted to Hartford,” the airline said in its e-mailed statement. “We worked with the airport to secure services, including remote deplaning and lav servicing. Obviously, we would have preferred deplaning much sooner than we did, but our flights were six of the 23 reported diversions into Hartford, including international flights. The airport experienced intermittent power outages, which made refueling and jetbridge deplaning difficult.”

JetBlue also apologized to the passengers.

“We have communicated directly with our customers impacted by this confluence of events to apologize as well as provide a full round trip refund, as it remains JetBlue’s responsibly to not simply provide safe and secure travel, but a comfortable experience as well,” the company stated.

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Photo: That unusual October snowstorm also led to unusual tarmac delays. Here, at least some passengers at Bradley International Airport are able to deplane; for one flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to Newark, N.J., that privilege was much delayed. Credit: Erika Pesantes/South Florida Sun Sentinel

 

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