The drama on Saturday happened when the weather at JFK was too poor for the plane to land. It circled above New York before being rerouted 90 miles north to Stewart Airport in Newburgh, the paper reports. That added almost two hours to the 5 hour, 20 minute scheduled flight time. But wait, there's more … Once in Newburgh, passengers claim they were forced to wait inside the plane as it sat on the tarmac for nearly seven hours (Virgin says it was more like four-and-a-half).
And, yes, they say they were hungry, with four Pringles chips per passenger being rationed out. A woman who suffered a panic attack was reportedly escorted off the plane by police, but the rest of the passengers were apparently forced to stay onboard.
Dancing With The Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba was on the flight and tweeted that “people were panicking and they had no food.”
A flight attendant reportedly told one passenger who had a question to “shut the hell up.” Later, Virgin's CEO apologized and promised a full refund as well as $100 credits to each passenger.
Apparently the plane parked on the tarmac at Newburgh without letting passengers disembark because Virgin did not have facilities there. Wasn't the airline aware of a U.S. Department of Transportation rule enacted last year that prohibits airlines from keeping passengers on a tarmac-parked plane for more than three hours?
JetBlue does have a presence at the airport, and some of the local crew members went aboard, with one saying, “Ladies and gentleman, we're here to get you off the plane.”
The crowd went wild. JetBlue bussed the passengers back down to New York. The Virgin plane, empty, flew back and beat them to JFK.