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Virgin Atlantic passengers stuck on plane (at least it saved them from New Jersey)

June 23, 2010 |  7:29 am

How to make a trip to Newark, N.J., even worse? Get stuck on the grounded plane for over four hours.

Flight from hell? Sounded like it.

Passengers aboard a Virgin Atlantic flight were stuck on the ground in Connecticut for more than four hours Tuesday night without air conditioning.

Things got so bad that people started fainting, yelling, ambulances showed up ... it wasn’t fun.

One passenger told CNN: "It was like four hours on the ground without any air conditioning. It was crazy. Just crazy."

"There were babies on the plane. And we are in dark and hot. You try to be patient, but people were yelling and screaming," she said.

At least three people were carted off in ambulances after passing out on the plane.  

Virgin, of course, is sorry for the incident. The airline said bad weather was....

...responsible for the plane being diverted to Connecticut's Bradley International Airport.

The flight, which originated in London, was supposed to end up in Newark. So Virgin ended up busing some of the passengers there.

Why wouldn't the airline let people off the plane?

Virgin spokeswoman Janine Doy told the Associated Press that the airport "isn't used to dealing with international flights" and proper processing of the passengers had to be carried out.

"It was a situation that was beyond our control," Doy said. "There were weather conditions. ... Bradley had to get customs and immigration to the airport."

So, the feds should slap Virgin down, right?  After all, Barbara Boxer's "Airline Passenger Bill of Rights" law was passed in April. The measure stipulates that passengers cannot be detained on a grounded plane for more than three hours, or the airline will be subject to huge fines.

Sadly, no.  

Just like the bad guys in the "Lethal Weapon" movies could smirk at Mel Gibson and Danny Glover and say, "Diplomatic immunity," so can Virgin. It was an international flight. Same rules don't apply.

"That is a U.S. regulation," an airline spokesman told CNN. "We are a European carrier, so we operate under European law. We haven't infringed any rules."

-- Jimmy Orr

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Photo: Scene from "Airplane!" Credit: YouTube.