Passengers flying Air Transat Monday from Brussels to Montreal called 911 from inside their plane after being diverted to Ottawa due to inclement weather and reportedly kept inside the plane for almost 6 hours.
The flight was due to arrive in Montreal by 3:15 pm Monday, but thunderstorms resulted in several flights being grounded. The flight then reportedly had to wait to be refueled and scheduled for take-off along with the other halted flights.
Passengers had already been flying for 8 hours when the plane was diverted to Ottawa, landing around 5 pm. The plane then sat on the tarmac for 6 hours with passengers not allowed to exit.
At least two passengers called 911 at some point during the wait. Passengers alleged that the power in the plane went off at some point, taking out the AC and leading to one to state: “We’re suffocating,” to the 911 operator. The woman reported that they had opened the doors after the AC had gone off and that someone was vomiting; she also stated: “People are just losing their minds.”
Passengers Tweeted to the Ottawa Airport which responded that it was up to individual airlines to determine if passengers could deplane or not.
Passengers were given minimal information; most of what they were reportedly told was that they needed to refuel and then that the refueling truck had run out of fuel, prompting the elongated wait.
The passengers reported that the only food that was given out was small snacks given to kids. When at least two passengers called 911, paramedics arrived and airport security gave out water to the passengers.
They were still allegedly not allowed to deplane. The passenger who had the tweet exchange with Ottawa Airport, telling them that they had been stuck for 5 hours and requesting information on the situation, also spoke with CBC news.
She told CBC: “I’m super pissed. I’m just really hot, I’m sweating, and I haven’t eaten.… I’m hungry, and they only rationed the food to give little snacks to kids, which is good. Luckily, they started bringing in bottles of water from the outside like 45 minutes ago, but no food. I’m starving.”
The plane took off around 11 pm, after almost exactly 6 hours on the tarmac with passengers inside, in the dark and heat with little provisions and information, and landed in Montreal at 11:30.
Another flight from Rome was diverted to Ottawa for the same stormy weather and sat on the Ottawa tarmac for approximately 4 hours.
A spokesman for Ottawa International Airport stated that they had busses on standby in case the airline decided to deplane their passengers, though they never did. She stated that there were several issues that elongated the Brussels’ flight’s delay, including crew having to get permission to check on a pet below the plane and then doing so, alleged mechanical issues with the plane and the refueling.
Air Transat blames Ottawa Airport in part, stating that because of the number of diverted flights, there were not bridges or stairs available to the flight so that they could allow their passengers to disembark.
They ultimately said that the situation was beyond their control.
Passengers have also posted videos of the darkened, tension-filled plane. The passengers were ultimately on the plane for 15 hours.