Air travel can be uncomfortable, but these flights were so horrendous that passengers actually dialed 911.
To avoid stormy weather, two Air Transat flights were rerouted to the Ottawa airport, where they sat — full of passengers — for hours on the tarmac. Yet conditions only worsened as the power was shut off, leaving the passengers in the dark without air conditioning. Passengers became so frustrated, that at least two dialed 911 for help.
"The plane actually lost power and went zero AC [air conditioning], and then now we've got the doors open and one kid is puking, and people are just losing their minds," Laura Mah, a passenger on one of the flights, told CBC News.
"They're just getting mad, saying 'This is not all right, this is not OK, you can't do this to us,'" she continued. "The police are in here and the fire department's in here and they're telling us that they can't do anything, that we just have to stay put."
Flight 157 from Brussels to Montreal was grounded for six hours, and Flight 507 traveling from Rome to Montreal was stuck on the tarmac for four hours. In both cases, passengers were estimated to have been onboard the plane for 15 hours in total before reaching their final destinations hours late. The passengers on Flights 157 and 507 were not alone; 20 flights were reportedly diverted on their way to Montreal on Monday because of thunderstorms.
Mah told reporters that neither the airline nor the airport were communicative with the passengers, and much of the frustration stemmed from a serious lack of information. At one point, she tweeted out a call for details to the Ottawa airport, but they merely responded that the next step was "up to the airline."
I'm sorry to hear that - it's up to the airline to determine whether to deplane or wait it out when a flight diverts.— Ottawa Airport (@FlyYOW) August 1, 2017
However, Air Transat informed a concerned Twitter user that they could only allow passengers to disembark if the airport authorities gave permission.
Were waiting for airport authorities, we have no control for that.YOW received more than 30 non-expected flights. /CPA— Air Transat (@airtransat) August 1, 2017
Another passenger, Brice de Schietere, recorded the inside of the cabin and uploaded the footage onto Twitter to show just how difficult things were becoming.
When paramedics arrived after a 911 call, there was little they could do but provide water for the overheated passengers.
Spokesperson for the Ottawa International Airport Authority Krista Kealey told CBC News that there were buses ready in case Air Transat decided to allow their passengers to disembark, and since these were international flights, continue through customs until they could fly again.
However, Air Transat officials said that there wasn't much that could be done because airport traffic was overwhelmingly busy due to the bad weather conditions. According to them, deplaning was not possible.
"We are sincerely sorry for the inconvenience that this situation, which was beyond our control, may have caused our passengers," a statement by the airline read.
The Office of Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau told Presse Canadienne that there is a new law that parliament is working to put into affect in spring 2018. Bill C-49 mandates that airlines with planes that have been stranded for three or more hours provide sustenance to their passengers, as well as communication with them about the delay. Furthermore, passengers must be allowed to disembark, unless airport security states otherwise, ultimately ensuring that bad weather diversions don't turn out quite like Air Transat's in the future.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Wikimedia Commons user U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse