Hundreds of passengers on an Air Transat flight from Rome to Toronto this week were forced to spend hours on the tarmac due to delays, a situation one passenger rights advocate says could have been avoided with more effective regulations.
Air Transat 9309, carrying 336 passengers, was set to depart early Monday afternoon. It was initially delayed by mechanical difficulties, according to the company, with some customers waiting on the plane for up to six hours.
Passengers who talked to Global News said they faced hot conditions due to limited air conditioning and were offered few snacks.
“If you were lucky enough to sit on the platform or stairs, you were able to get a little bit of air,” said Brian Costa, who was flying home to Toronto after two weeks in Europe.
He estimated the temperature reached about 45 degrees Celsius.
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Air Transat said some passengers requested to leave the plane, causing further delays.
The flight was ultimately cancelled due to regulations for crew fatigue, with passengers sent to a nearby hotel until the morning.
The rescheduled flight departed Tuesday at 1:46 p.m. local time — 23 hours and 46 minutes after the flight it replaced.
In a statement, the company said, “We would like to express our regret for the inconvenience this delay may have caused to our passengers, but we confirm that we have done our best to ensure their comfort by providing snacks and water, activating the air conditioning system as soon as possible and communicating regularly.”
Passenger rights advocate Gábor Lukács says the situation is evidence that Canada’s air passenger bill of rights — enacted this summer — has little teeth since it doesn’t apply outside of Canada.
“Those regulations don’t protect passengers,” Lukács said.
“If those regulations were working, what we have seen today wouldn’t have happened.”
The company said it will pay each passenger 600 Euros (about $900) in compensation.
Costa said the money offered isn’t good enough, and is unsure whether he’ll fly Air Transat again.
“The circumstances, the situation — it was inhumane, he said.
“People get arrested for leaving dogs in a hot car. What about humans on a hot plane?”