Pilot of plane stranded on tarmac pleaded to let passengers into terminal

The U.S. Transportation Department's preliminary report on the Continental Airlines flight stranded on the Rochester tarmac for six hours concludes that the flight crew is not to blame for the nightmare.

Nearly 50 passengers were on the aircraft for nine hours two weeks ago after the flight was redirected due to bad weather. Passengers were stuck on the plane with no food or water and a terrible odor leaking from the bathroom.

According to the investigation, the flight's pilot pleaded with an airline representative to let her passengers off the plane until they could depart again.

It appears that ExpressJet, which was operating the flight, was more correct in their original statement than people claimed. After the incident, the airline claimed they couldn't release passengers because they were told the security officials at the airport had gone home for the night. The airport hit back, claiming that wasn't true.

While the airport doesn't seem to be at fault, the only remaining representative at the airport for Mesaba Airlines is likely to blame.

More from the Star Tribune:

According to the U.S. Transportation Department's preliminary investigation, a local representative of Mesaba Airlines "improperly refused the requests of the ExpressJet captain to let her passengers off the plane, telling the captain that the airport was closed to passengers for security reasons."

The local representative of Mesaba was "the only carrier in a position to help the stranded plane" but rejected the crew's effort to let its passengers in the Rochester terminal "because there was no one from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) available to screen passengers."

That claim is simply not true. TSA allows passengers to exit the plane if they are in a secured terminal. They are allowed to reboard the plane without a screening.

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