Windsor Locks, CT – Virgin Airlines released a statement to the Associated Press on Thursday, June 24, 2010, that claims the pilot of the plane asked for permissions to allow passengers to get off, but was met with threats of arrest from the customs official at the airport, as reported by NJ.com.
According to the statement, the trans-Atlantic flight’s captain was told by a customs official at Bradley International Airport that passengers were not allowed to exit the plane until more immigration officials arrived. The officials threatened to arrest anyone who got off the plane.
Greg Dawson, a Virgin Atlantic spokesman in London, reported these accusations to the AP through an email. He said that customs officials did not arrive at the airport until two hours after the initial threats of arrest.
Customs officials have denied the allegations.
As was previously reported, passengers aboard an international flight from London to Newark, NJ, were rerouted to Bradley International Airport after bad weather prevented the plane from completing its route. The passengers were then kept on the plane for three to four hours without food, air conditioning or lights, according to reports.
The incident has also sparked reviews on passenger rights for international flights. According to Bloomberg, the US Transportation Department is deliberating including international airlines in the rules that require planes to release passengers if they become stranded on the tarmac.
As of right now, international flights are exempt from the rule that took effect April 29, 2010.
Senator Olympia Snowe, R-Maine said in a statement, “Simply because it is a foreign carrier should not exempt that airline from providing for basic needs of its passengers…I find it absolutely absurd that these Virgin Atlantic customers were forced to remain on the tarmac, with limited access to food and water.”
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