Could this be the summer of nightmarish travel stories? This week we've already heard about United destroying one passenger's luggage, and now word is that a Virgin Atlantic flight bound for Newark became an in-flight sauna. One passenger told CNN, "It was like four hours on the ground without any air conditioning. It was crazy. Just crazy. There were babies on the plane. And we are in dark and hot. You try to be patient but people were yelling and screaming."
There were 300 passengers on board the flight, which left from Heathrow Airport last night with a malfunctioning generator and air conditioner. After delays, the aircraft took off but then hit storms in New York, and was diverted to Bradley Airport in Connecticut. Upon landing, the power was going out, there was no fresh air coming in and NBC reports that the aircraft sat on the tarmac for four hours as temperatures reached 100 degrees.
People were fainting, and three were taken away in ambulances—though airline officials say there is no evidence this was linked to the aircraft's conditions! One passenger dubbed the flight "Hell on Wheels"—and perhaps there will be a sequel when the passengers are now bused to their Newark destination.
The flight is not subject to the new rule which fines airlines up to $27K per passenger if they are left on the tarmac for longer than 3 hours. A Virgin rep says, "That is a U.S. regulation. We are a European carrier so we operate under European law. We haven't infringed any rules." Virgin also says that the delay was caused by immigration, because Bradley Airport isn't used to dealing with so many international travelers at once. Maybe this was all just one big riff on that old Monty Python sketch. Ah, British humor.