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Passengers Revolt After Hours-Long Delay On Oakland Tarmac

Susan Leigh Taylor
January 11, 2019 - 12:08 pm

Two Aeromexico passengers were detained after trying to force their way off an aircraft that sat for nearly four hours on the tarmac of the Oakland International Airport.

Passengers complained that, for much of that time inside the cramped cabin, they were held without air conditioning, food or water on Thursday. 

Flight 622 from Guadalajara was due to land at San Francisco International Airport that morning, but was diverted to Oakland after it was unable to land in the city’s famously dense fog.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said that some passengers resorted to dialing 911 to report that they were being held against their will. Officers later responded to reports of an unruly passenger who was said to be interfering with the flight crew, and a woman who had trouble breathing was taken to the hospital.

Two men were detained after they allegedly threatened to force open the jet door, but they were released without being arrested.

Aeromexico claims that, because it has no operations at the Oakland airport, it needed special authorization from authorities to release the passengers.

It is not clear if the ongoing partial government shutdown, which has forced air traffic controllers, immigration officials and TSA agents to work with fewer staff and without pay, played any role in the hours-long delay. However, the shutdown has resulted in longer lines at security checkpoints and a growing number of flight delays.

Patrick Smith, an airline pilot and author of the long-running Ask the Pilot column, told KCBS Radio that the logistical challenges combined to create a “worst-case scenario” for passengers, and called on airline officials to “think outside the box” and improvise during a crisis.