American Airlines passengers are driven into a ‘mental breakdown’ as the plane stalled on the runway for hours without air conditioning
American Airlines passengers on a flight to New York experienced distress during a six-hour delay before the plane finally took off from North Carolina.
Some of the passengers waiting to depart from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport sobbed and at least one suffered a panic attack due to hot conditions inside the plane on Sunday, The Charlotte Observer reported for the first time.
On Twitter, Observer reporter Genna Contino, who witnessed the ordeal, said the airline did not provide snacks or drinks and the air conditioning was turned off at times.
“They turned it off to save fuel until people started sobbing and having panic attacks,” Ms Contino tweeted.
Ms Contino said the air conditioning was only turned back on after other desperate passengers complained. She also claimed that passengers were not allowed to disembark because the plane was in a holding area near the runway.
American Airlines said The Independent that the delay was caused by a mechanical problem and subsequent weather-related impacts.
The passengers initially boarded around 1:40 p.m. Sunday, but shortly thereafter a maintenance issue was identified by the flight crew.
The airline said the plane remained at the gate with the jet deck attached and a preconditioned air duct was pumping in fresh air.
They were then asked to disembark around 3:50 p.m. and would have had access to different dining facilities while waiting in the terminal, American said. The passengers then boarded another plane at 4:30 p.m.
“Due to nearby lightning, the flight was unable to push back safely from the gate until [5.58pm] … Once the weather cleared the field, the flight pushed back and departed for JFK at [7.03pm]”American said in a statement to The Independent.
The airline said customers were allowed to leave at any time as long as the gates remained open and whenever the gates were closed, snacks and drinks were made available “after a period of time”.
It was unclear whether the air hose was in constant use or disconnected to save fuel. The Independent contacted American for clarification.