Virgin Atlantic pilot asked to unload stranded passengers, customs official threatened arrest
Published: Thursday, June 24, 2010, 4:01 PM Updated: Thursday, June 24, 2010, 4:12 PM
Virgin Airlines planes on the tarmac
The pilot of a Virgin Atlantic flight from London that landed at Bradley International Airport after being diverted says a customs official threatened to have passengers arrested if they were allowed off of the airplane, according to an Associated Press report. Passengers had to stay on the plane for four hours in rising heat and darkness until more immigrations arrived at the airport to process them. NJ.com community members are reacting to the news.
“Virgin Atlantic should have not landed or accepted being redirected to Hartford – Bradley International Airport as they are an international airline serving both JFK and Newark airport and are very much aware that there are no customs agents on duty after 5:00 p.m at Hartford airport.
“The captain should have insisted on landing at an airport with customs and immigration facilities or continue to circle over Newark airport until the weather had cleared up enough to land in Newark. This was an international flight and if it was low on fuel at all, it would have been one of the first aircraft allowed to land once Newark airport began accepting arrivals.
“It makes absolutely no sense for an arriving international flight to be diverted to an airport that does not have customs and immigrations services.
“Secondly, as legendary radio talk show host Bruce Williams has pointed out on his show many times, since the passengers had no idea that their flight would be diverted, there is no reason for not letting these passengers off of the aircraft for security reasons. The passengers had already been screened in London, none of them were on the “no fly” list and were definitely not a threat to the public safety.
“Virgin Atlantic should refund these passenger’s one way fare for this flight and apologize to each one for the trouble and inconvenience they endured.”
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