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Archive for Sunday, March 18, 2007

Passengers stranded for hours in planes

March 18, 2007

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— Hundreds of passengers were stranded for hours overnight on airliners that couldn't take off from John F. Kennedy International Airport because of the ice and snow storm that pummeled the Northeast.

The exact number of planes stuck on the tarmac was unclear, but irate passengers reported that the problems affected several airlines. Pilots and officials blamed some of the problems on a shortage of deicing fluid and a new federal regulation giving pilots a narrow window to get their planes in the air once the chemicals are applied. The change has meant some jets need to get doused repeatedly if their takeoffs are delayed.

Rahul Chandran said he was trapped aboard a Cathay Pacific Airways jet from midnight until nearly 9:30 a.m. Saturday, when the flight to Vancouver was finally canceled.

Throughout the night, the pilot repeatedly described problems with deicing equipment, including a lack of fluid, that kept the plane waiting endlessly to have its wings sprayed. When the airline finally gave up and tried to return the plane to its terminal, it took at least another hour to arrange a gate, he said.

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