Diverted passengers treated well, says airport authority

Staff ~ The Telegram
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The 229 passengers and crew of a diverted Delta Airlines flight who spent an unexpected night in St. John's were well taken care of, says a spokesperson for the St. John's International Airport Authority.
The flight from Paris, France to Atlanta, Ga., was diverted to St. John's Wednesday afternoon in order to evacuate a passenger with a medical condition, but severe weather - freezing rain - prevented the plane from leaving and passengers were forced to spend a night in city hotels.
The plane departed St. John's at about noon today, and authority spokesperson Marie Manning said despite the interruption in their travel plans, most passengers boarded the plane with smiles on their faces.
"One lady commented that she'll be back, but the next time it will be planned," said Manning.
Manning was responding to an article in today's Telegram, in which a family member of one of the passengers suggested more could have been done to accommodate the passengers.
The family member contacted The Telegram from the Boston area, saying a frazzled family member was taken off the plane and asked to wait in a baggage claim area.
Manning said she checked with Air Canada, the ground handler for the flight, and said no one knew of such an incident.
"This was an unexpected stop, and people are not always happy when their plans are interrupted, regardless of why," Manning said.
The caller also said passengers weren't permitted to go through customs for several hours and went without food or water.
Manning said this also wasn't true.
She explained that the ill patient was placed in a waiting Eastern Health ambulance at about 3:45 p.m. and transported to the Health Sciences Centre. The plane refueled and proceeded to the de-icing pad, with the intention of resuming its flight. But after several attempts, the crew discovered the de-icing solution wasn't doing its job and decided it was unsafe to continue, so the flight was cancelled at about 7:30 p.m.
Manning said the flight crew gave passengers the option of deplaning and going through customs, or staying on board and being served a meal.
She said Air Canada and the authority called in extra staff to handle the situation. She explained that hotel vacancies were a challenge, and the passengers were distributed to more than 10 hotels in the area.
She said the last of the passengers left the terminal by 10:10 p.m., and were taken to their hotels in busses or taxi cabs.
Manning said every effort was made to assist the passengers, including sending a taxi to an area store to purchase baby formula and water. She added that staff at the visitor information centre also did their part by providing toy airplanes and organizing activities for the children.
"We received lots of compliments from the passengers and the crew and they were pleased with the service. A lot of them had smiles on their faces today, even though it was a long night," Manning said.
There are an average of 50 flights diverted to St. John's each year, mostly due to medical emergencies and mechanical problems.
telegram@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Delta Airlines, International Airport Authority, Air Canada Health Sciences Centre

Geographic location: St. John's, Paris, France Atlanta, Ga. Boston

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Recent comments

  • Rolando
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Terrible organization skills on the part of the Airport. Another embarassment for visitors to St. John's. Were other planes trying to take off??? I don't think so. Please get your act together, and stop putting out false information.

  • Cal
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    The Crew made the proper call . If the Crew had gone into the cabin area and told the passenger's that there were problems with de-icing due to inclement weather but we''ll try to take off anyway , there would have been a riot on board . Not one of those passengers on board would have said , yea , lets go . Personally , i don't believe that anyone was mistreated , including the person taken to the hospital . Nobody likes to be inconvenienced , but given the choice they had , they'll all arrive home safely and be able to tell their family's about their flight delay and what a wonderful place they spent the night and how well they were treated . Hey , that's Newfie hospitality . They wouldn't have it any other way !!!

  • Judy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    I've been stranded, diverted , delayed a few times. Some people grumble. Some people go with the flow. Either way, it is what it is and it's going to play out. Usually the airport employees are helpful and do what they can. No point in stirring up your juices over something you can't control.

  • Rolando
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Terrible organization skills on the part of the Airport. Another embarassment for visitors to St. John's. Were other planes trying to take off??? I don't think so. Please get your act together, and stop putting out false information.

  • Cal
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    The Crew made the proper call . If the Crew had gone into the cabin area and told the passenger's that there were problems with de-icing due to inclement weather but we''ll try to take off anyway , there would have been a riot on board . Not one of those passengers on board would have said , yea , lets go . Personally , i don't believe that anyone was mistreated , including the person taken to the hospital . Nobody likes to be inconvenienced , but given the choice they had , they'll all arrive home safely and be able to tell their family's about their flight delay and what a wonderful place they spent the night and how well they were treated . Hey , that's Newfie hospitality . They wouldn't have it any other way !!!

  • Judy
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    I've been stranded, diverted , delayed a few times. Some people grumble. Some people go with the flow. Either way, it is what it is and it's going to play out. Usually the airport employees are helpful and do what they can. No point in stirring up your juices over something you can't control.