Nightmare on a plane: 47 passengers trapped overnight with overflowing toilets

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Photo by Stephan Segraves
A Continental flight from Houston was bound for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Friday night before the passengers experienced a night of hell. The plane was rerouted to the Rochester airport due to bad weather and the 47 passengers were forced to stay on the place for nine hours with no food, one free beverage and overflowing toilets.

ExpressJet Airlines operated the plane and said there were several airline regulations that forced the passengers to suffer through a night of toilet stench, crying babies, and no food.

We'd just call it torture.

The ExpressJet Airlines that operated the plane says the flight was diverted to Rochester because of Twin Cities thunderstorms, and that airline regulations prevented passengers from getting off the plane.

Link Christin, a passenger on the flight, was understandably furious.

"It's not like you're on a [Boeing] 747 and you can walk around,'' said Christin, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law to the Star Tribune. "This was a sardine can, with a single row of seats on one side of the plane and two rows of seats on the other. And they've got about 50 people inside, including babies, for the whole night. It was a nightmare.''

The plane left Houston at 9:30 p.m. and was supposed to land at MSP by midnight. By 6 a.m., passengers were finally allowed to leave the plane and sit in the airport. They only received a bag of pretzels earlier in the flight and one free beverage.

An ExpressJet spokesperson apologized for the incident and said there were several problems that caused it. The airline crew had hit their maximum air work hours, so the company had to fly in another crew. Their attempt to get a charter bus "didn't work out." And the passengers couldn't spend the night in the Rochester airport because TSA screeners had gone home for the day and passengers had to go through security again to leave. The option to stay in the airport "was not provided as an option," the spokesperson said.

At 9:30 a.m., the passengers were back on the same plane with no working restroom and flew into MSP by 11 a.m.


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