Thursday, March 31, 2016

'It was torture': Aircraft problem left passengers stranded for hours on tarmac

An Ottawa woman says she watched passengers on a recent Sunwing flight collapsing, vomiting and losing consciousness after their plane was stuck on a tarmac without power for hours as temperatures soared.

In a CTV News exclusive, Ashley Colling said the trouble began on the flight from Cuba to Ottawa late Sunday night, when their plane made a stop in the Bahamas to pick up more passengers.

"As soon as we landed, power just cut out on the plane," Colling told CTV Ottawa.

Ashley Colling says she was among the passengers stuck on the tarmac for hours on a recent Sunwing flight.

Without power there was no air circulation on the plane, she said, and the temperature began rising quickly.

Colling said passengers were given a small drink of water, but they were told they couldn't use the toilets.

"People were starting to panic," she recalled. "Some people were starting to breathe heavily, people were sweating, babies were on board crying.

"It was torture. It was cruelty," Colling added.

After waiting on the plane for two hours, Colling says the passengers were briefly let onto the tarmac to get some air. She said some passengers were forced to relieve themselves on the tarmac.

"There were a few little carts to hide behind to get some privacy, but it was really undignified to say the least," she said.

When the passengers returned on to the plane, they were expecting to take off. But the plane remained on the tarmac for more than an hour, and the heat became worse during that time.

"People are going into distress," Colling recalled. "A lady collapses and has to be taken to the back of the plane and put on oxygen. A man passes out flat on his family… another man starts vomiting."

She said at that point her eight-year-old son began hyperventilating.

"Another passenger gave us an inhaler so we could open his airways better," Colling said.

After a nearly four-hour ordeal, the passengers were taken off the plane and spent the night in a hotel.

Sunwing said a mechanical issue on the plane affected the air conditioning system.

"Passengers were served refreshments and lavatory facilities were available,"Jacqueline Grossman, senior director of marketing at Sunwing Travel Group, said in a statement to CTV Ottawa.

She said passengers have also received a $150 voucher for future travel with Sunwing "as a gesture of goodwill."

But Colling said she doesn't plan to travel with the company anytime soon.

"It's illegal to leave an animal in a car like that for five minutes, and they left us for hours," she said.

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