Weekend Travel Nightmares Due To Snow, Qantas Strike

The weekend’s unusual October snowstorm in the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states caused nightmarish conditions for many U.S. travelers, but probably none had it worse than passengers who were stuck on planes at Hartford’s Bradley International for several hours.

Trapped on the Tarmac for Seven Hours

More than 700 flyers on three JetBlue planes and one American Airlines flight sat on the tarmac at Bradley, in some cases for more than seven hours.

A passenger on one of JetBlue’s “trapped on the tarmac” planes said flight attendants ran out of food and water hours before the ordeal ended, and it got worse: “The toilets were backed up. When you flushed, nothing would happen,” said the passenger. Eventually these passengers were let off the planes to spend the night on cots and chairs in the terminal.

What to do when bad weather delays or cancels your plane

More than 20 flights had to be diverted to the Connecticut airport from Newark and JFK as the freakishly early snowstorm hit the region. This created unexpectedly heavy aircraft traffic at Bradley and intermittent airport power outages there only added to the chaos.

The Department of Transportation’s so called 3-hour rule is supposed to protect passengers from such scenarios. Airlines are required to release passengers into the airport if they’ve sitting in planes on the tarmac for longer than three hours or face heavy fines of $27,500 per passenger.

Qantas Strike Over, for Now

Meanwhile, Qantas, the Australian flag carrier and the world’s 10th-largest airline, is putting its planes back in the air today after a bitter labor dispute that prompted the airline to ground its entire fleet over the weekend.

What to expect when an airline goes on strike

An Australian court ruling on the dispute, described as a “major victory” for the airline, ended the 48-hour grounding, but it will take a day or two for the Qantas schedule to return to normal. It is, however, adding a few new flights to help passengers get over the disruption, and if you have reservations with Qantas this week, check with the airline for updates.

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Published: October 31, 2011