Aviation & Space Law

Law Prof Aboard Plane Parked for 6 Hours Joins Airline Reform Advocates

A scheduled three-hour trip from Houston to Minneapolis on Friday took more than six additional hours when the ExpressJet regional flight operated by Continental Airlines got detoured by bad weather to Rochester, Minn.

Worse, the small plane sat on the tarmac in Rochester from midnight to 6 a.m., fully loaded with cramped passengers, including several crying babies, as those aboard, including a law professor, endured an increasingly smelly situation caused by overloaded restrooms. By the time passengers were let off the plane, some 10 hours after they’d departed from Houston, it had been 18 hours since some had last eaten, Link Christin tells ABC News.

They did get a coupon for a free beverage, notes Christin, who is an adjunct faculty member of the William Mitchell College of Law.

Those responsible give differing accounts of why the passengers weren’t let off the plane into the nearby terminal, but the situation lends further weight to earlier horror stories that have prompted consideration of federal legislation to provide air travelers with more rights, according to the New York Times.

Among those expressing concern today was U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“Everybody has their own medical and emotional limitations; their own physical limitations. To put people at risk on all of those levels is unconscionable,” Christin tells the Times. “How can they allow a situation like that to happen, when it could have been solved so easily, in so many ways?”

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Hot, Tired, Hungry and Stuck on Plane: Passengers are Ready for Reform”

Associated Press: “47 spend `surreal’ 6 hours on grounded plane”

Bloomberg: “Ticket to Hell”

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