Airline passengers who spent 11 hours stuck on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy International Airport were unloaded Tuesday afternoon in the latest example of the frustrating effects of a massive blizzard that delayed thousands of would-be holiday travelers.
"There were a lot of people on the plane crying," said passenger Christina Edgar. "It was really a tough situation."
She called the situation "just a bad judgment call."
"They kept trying to get us to go, and they kept us on the plane with no choice," Edgar said.
Travelers aboard the Cathay Pacific Airways flight from Vancouver, British Columbia, arrived in New York at 2:12 a.m. ET on Tuesday.
They got off the plane shortly after 1 p.m. ET.
"It wasn't fun with three children sitting there," said passenger Vincent Butcher. "No one has admitted to making any mistakes."
Cathay Pacific spokesman Gus Whitcomb said the airline's intention was "to get passengers to New York as quickly as possible, and we anticipated to have gate space available."
He said the gate typically assigned to the airline had been moved "because of what became a very fluid situation at JFK due to the weather."
Four international flights were stranded at JFK on Tuesday without gates available to unload passengers, officials said.
"We also had four flights come into LaGuardia, but because they were domestic flights we were able to get them off," said Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman.
Coleman said that because the JFK flights were international, they had to be unloaded in specific customs areas to undergo screening.
"There is just no place that you can dump 1,000 people in a secured area for a period of time," Coleman said.
He said the planes were stranded because the airlines brought them in without checking with terminal operations to see if there was a place to put them.
Filed under: 360° Radar
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