Passenger stranded on tarmac for 7+ hours describes ordeal

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by DEBBIE DENMON

WFAA

Posted on October 31, 2011 at 9:15 PM

DALLAS - Sharon Roberts said she was pleading to get off of an American Airlines jet where she sat for more than seven hours on a snow-covered tarmac at Hartford's Bradley International Airport.

"It was a fiasco," Roberts said. "It was just exhausting."

She was with her eight-year-old granddaughter, returning from Paris, France.

"[My granddaughter] just burst into tears and it was sad," Roberts said. "She's eight years old - what does she know? She's a baby, and I had to say you're just gonna have to put up with it."

Six Jet Blue flights, plus the American Airlines flight were all stuck on the tarmac.

The small airport is equipped to process 300 international passengers per hour, but American Airlines said Bradley had no custom agents at work to deplane the international flight.

Kate Hanni, the executive director of FlyersRights.org, said the airlines gambled and lost by figuring they could take off after being cleared to land.

 "I primarily blame the airport, because they should never have allowed [it to happen] when they knew that all these flights were being diverted to the airport," Hanni said. "They should have called the customs folks and their employees back in immediately."

FlyersRights.org renewed its call for mandatory airport tarmac delay contingency plans.

Hanni said the same airport in Hartford was responsible for a delay with Virgin Atlantic flight stranding over 300 passengers for four hours back in June 2010.

"The law is not tough enough," Hanni said. "It needs to include the airport."

As it stands now, American and Jet Blue airlines could face fines of $27,000 for each standed passenger, because it surpassed the three-hour rule.

That's little consolation to a grandmother who paid more than $2,000 for tickets and only received 5,000 travel miles for her trouble.

E-mail ddenmon@wfaa.com

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