A cockpit recording details a 7-hour JetBlue flight delay at Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn., where overflowing toilets and no water were just part of the nightmare. NBC's Tom Costello reports.
A recording of transmissions between a JetBlue pilot and Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Conn., captured the pilot's frustration at being stuck on the runway during a snowstorm for more than seven hours on Saturday.
The pilot continues to request towing assistance so that passengers can deplane at a gate. "We can't seem to get any help from our own company," says the unidentified pilot. "I apologize for this, but is there any way you can get a tug and a towbar out here to us and get us towed somewhere to a gate or something? I don't care -- take us anywhere."
The seven-minute recording was posted to the air traffic website LiveATC.net.
Flight 504, as it's identified in the recording, was one of at least three JetBlue planes that reportedly sat on the tarmac for several hours after being diverted from New York-area airports during a snowstorm. According to JetBlue's website, flight 504 is a daily flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Newark.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is investigating the JetBlue tarmac delay and others that lasted more than three hours. Airlines that keep passengers stranded for more than three hours face fines of up to $27,500 per flier.
American Airlines' Flight 45 from Paris to New York was also diverted to Bradley International. In a statement, the carrier said the flight was delayed more than seven hours. "We asked Customs multiple times to return. They finally did show up much later to work the flight and process international passengers," the statement said. "We will definitely be explaining all this when DOT asks about it."
Following the snowstorm this weekend, hundreds of flights were cancelled or diverted to other airports, including Bradley International in Hartford, Conn., where many passengers remained trapped on the tarmac for hours. NBC's Tom Costello has more.
A JetBlue spokeswoman, Victoria Lucia, confirmed in an e-mailed statement to the Associated Press that six of its planes, carrying a total of about 700 passengers, were diverted to Hartford as a result of a "confluence of events" including equipment failures at Newark and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport that prevented planes from landing in low visibility.
Andrew Carter, a passenger on the plane, told the AP that the crew ran out of snacks and bottled water for the last few hours of the delay. "The toilets were backed up. When you flushed, nothing would happen," he said.
The recording begins with the pilot warning the airport not to let a trooper board the plane. It is unclear at what point during the ordeal the airport considered sending police to the plane.
"If you try to come on the jetway now and flash a trooper's uniform on this plane, it's not going to be good, it's not going to be pretty," the pilot said to the airport. "They've calmed down a little bit. We've told them we're waiting for the gate, we're just waiting for a tug and a tow bar ... I appreciate your efforts, but it'll be worse if you try to put a trooper on here right now."
The Department of Transportation is investigating a series of tarmac delays caused by that deadly storm that battered the Northeast over the weekend, leaving thousands stranded for hours. Kate Hanni of flyersrights.org discusses.
The pilot later mentioned that a diabetic and paraplegic were among the passengers who urgently needed to deplane. The airport eventually towed the plane to a gate.
"Thank you very much ... for helping us out," said the pilot. "I think we got more help from you guys than our own people."
JetBlue spokesperson Sharon Jones told msnbc.com that the airline was looking into the incident. "We don’t have any information regarding that audiotape," she said. "We’re conducting our own investigation. Right now we don’t have anything to share."
Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.
Saturday's surprise snowstorm wreaked havoc on U.S. air travel. Msnbc's Veronica de la Cruz reports.
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