Passengers from flight trapped on tarmac get insulting "shut-up package"

After numerous halfhearted apologies and a promise of compensation, passengers from the six-hour tarmac nightmare aboard a Continental Airlines plane called the company's attempt to compensate them an insult and a flat-out "shut-up package."

During poor weather conditions Aug. 7, a Continental Airlines flight operated by ExpressJet was diverted to the Rochester airport on its way from Houston to Minneapolis. The plane ended up sitting on the tarmac for six hours as conditions on the plane deteriorated. Passengers were not provided with any food or beverage, the bathroom smell was overtaking the plane, and babies wouldn't stop crying. Once the passengers were finally allowed off the plane, they had been on the aircraft for nine hours.

So how does the airline say "We're sorry"? With a refund of their flight ticket and a pathetic $200 credit toward their next flight. That doesn't even cover most roundtrip flights. Oh, and if they use it, they lose their right to blame or sue the airline for what happened that night.

That's just pathetic.

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Link Christin, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, says he's annoyed because the $200 voucher expires in a year and includes a "release of liability." The voucher reads that by accepting it, "you release Continental, the operating carrier and their respective employees, agents and representatives from any and all liability, claims or damages resulting or arising from the matters related to your flight, compensation therefore or any related complaint."

Continental's package seems more suited for a passenger bumped from a flight and booked on a subsequent flight, Christin says. "What they sent is an insult."

Fellow passenger Bill Johnson of Minneapolis says he also was insulted by the compensation and views it as "a shut-up package."

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