Union Regs Lead to Misery

NBCNewYork.com: AIR NIGHTMARE: Chaos as Newark Flight Diverted

You may have noticed the headlines about hundreds of passengers trapped for hours on the tarmac in a plane with no air conditioning where temperatures reached 100 degrees and more.  What you might not have noticed, however, is one of the reasons this happened: union regulations.

Even before the flight left Heathrow Airport, there were problems. The generators were not working, so neither was the air conditioning system, passengers said. The flight was supposed to leave at 5:33 p.m., London time. Two hours later, with the plane fixed, the flight took off for Newark.

But problems arose again because of storms in the New York area on Tuesday night. The airline needed to divert the plane. With no option to land at JFK, it landed at Connecticut’s Bradley Airport, the company said.

When the plane, carrying 300 passengers and 14 crew, landed on the tarmac, the generators broke for the second time, passengers said. With no fresh air coming in, temperatures reached a baking 100 degrees, they said.

For four hours, they sat on the plane, sweating, frustrated and tired. During the ordeal, pilots exceeded their maximum flight time and the plane had to stay grounded so after all that, the passengers still couldn’t reach their Newark destination.

You’d think common sense would dictate that you can’t exceed your maximum allowable “flight hours” while sitting on the tarmac, but no.  It wasn’t just union regulations, of course.  The fact that they couldn’t wrangle up the right TSA employees to screen the passengers contributed to keeping them in the plane for 4 hours.  (You knew the TSA had to be involved some how, didn’t you?)

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