U.S. DOT asking airline questions after 6-hour tarmac nightmare


After passengers on a Continental Airlines flight to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport were stuck on the Rochester airport tarmac for six hours with overflowing toilets and no food, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is asking the airline to answer some questions about what happened Friday night.

On his blog, LaHood said he has sent a letter to the airline with a list of questions he wants answered about the unacceptably long delay that left 47 passengers stuck on small aircraft for a total of nine hours.

From the blog post:
Reasonable people are outraged at the idea of being stuck on a small plane for seven hours. I think it means that flyers and those who are considering flying want to know that should a delay occur, they will be treated respectfully.

That's why the letter to Continental simply seeks answers to a few questions. Basically, we want to know what I think all of us want to know:

  1. Why the flight was diverted to Rochester, Minnesota, in particular;

  2. Which carrier, Continental or Express Jet, was responsible for the well-being of the passengers and, in particular, which carrier's contingency plan was implemented during the tarmac delay;

  3. Whether Continental/ExpressJet had in place at Rochester procedures regarding the deplaning of passengers on diverted flights at diversion airports without TSA presence and if not, why not;

  4. Whether such procedures were implemented with respect to flight 2816 and if not, why not;

  5. Why flight 2816 was forced to stay on the ground at Rochester for as long as it did; and

  6. An explanation of the passenger's treatment during the delay, including once they were inside the airport terminal.