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There are rules and regulations set by the Department of Transportation over this sort of thing.
But apparently, the airlines don’t mind flouting the regulations.
Simply put, you’re not supposed to be kept inside a metal tube for seven hours. But it’s happened quite a bit lately, and the latest incident involves Spirit Airlines. And it wasn’t because of a mechanical issue, which almost makes the waiting tolerable because you want to be more safe than sorry.
This time, the pilot never showed up.
That’s right. The pilot never showed up and didn’t tell the airline what time he would be there. So they decided to wait in the hopes that he would show up more sooner than later.
In some respects, you can see the point of Spirit in not wanting to herd the passengers off the plane and into the terminal, only to have to put them back on in a manner of moments. But keeping them trapped in the cabin is almost inhumane.
The incident happened on what was supposed to be a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Richmond. Earlier this year, passengers were held in the cabin for more than seven hours, with no food or water—or air conditioning.
Passengers were yelling that they could have made other plans, and their rights. So too could have Spirit Airlines. I understand that you can’t just ring up a pilot and have him at the airport in a matter of moments. But at some point, common sense should take over. You can’t wait that long. You can’t just hope for the best to happen. You have to create the best scenario.
But this is a direct offshoot of the pilot shortage problem. There are too many pilots and flight attendants who are working an unfamiliar schedule, or taking on double shifts. Yes, there is compensation for delays. But the airline and the powers-that-be think you can just throw money at the problem, and it will go away.
It’s not that simple.
The problem needs to be addressed as a whole, not in pieces.
Rich Thomaselli has written for TravelPulse since 2014 and has been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. His work has...
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