5 Airplane Passengers Pass Out and 2 Hospitalized Including 1 Flight Attendant While Delta Flight Sits on Tarmac for 3 hours in Las Vegas
July 21, 2023
Delta Flight 555 at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada
On July 17, 2023, 197 passengers and six crew members were left trapped on board a Delta Air Lines flight 555 Boeing 757 for over 3 hours while it sat on the tarmac at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. Temperatures outside reached 114 degrees Fahrenheit while the plane sat reportedly without air conditioning or access to bathrooms. The flight (Las Vegas to Atlanta) was ultimately canceled.
I want to know how it was possible for passengers to be left in triple-digit heat onboard an aircraft for that long. Even at normal temperatures a tarmac delay is not supposed to go that long and we have rules about that, which we are actively enforcing right now.
According to a Reuter’s article, United States Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the Department of Transportation (DOT) was investigating why Delta passengers “remained on board a plane at the Las Vegas airport that sat on the tarmac in extreme heat on Monday, citing reports that the plane sat there for four hours.”
In the Media
Aviation Laws and Regulations
Regulations have been established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to protect passengers from being stranded on the tarmac for extended periods of time. Through the “Three-hour Tarmac Rule,” the FAA provides guidance concerning the “Department of Transportation (DOT) Rule, Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections, Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, part 259.”
According to the Tarmac Delay Rule, “covered carriers will not allow aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than 3 hours for domestic flights and 4 hours for international flights without providing passengers the option to deplane, subject to exceptions related to safety, security, and Air Traffic Control related reasons. Carriers’ plans must also contain assurances that carriers will provide adequate food and drinking water within 2 hours of the aircraft being delayed on the tarmac, provide notifications regarding the status of the delay and the opportunity to deplane if the opportunity to deplane exists, maintain operable lavatories and, if necessary, provide medical attention.”
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has been launched into why the passengers remained on the plane in such extreme heat. The DOT is investigating why the passengers were kept on the plane for so long. If it is found that Delta violated the “Three-hour Tarmac Rule”, the airline could face fines and penalties.
Potential Compensation for Stranded Passengers
Each year thousands of air travelers are severely injured due to onboard events and airline cabin incidents. Kreindler’s commitment to improving air travel safety, holding responsible parties accountable and fighting for the most compensation available to victims of airplane injuries is unparalleled.
Passengers who are forced to sit on the tarmac for more than 3 hours in extreme heat may be eligible for compensation. The specific compensation and remedies available to passengers may vary depending on the airline and the circumstances of the delay. Potential avenues for compensation include:
- Reimbursement or vouchers: Airlines may offer passengers reimbursement for expenses incurred during the delay, such as food, drinks, or accommodations. In some cases, airlines may provide vouchers for future flights as compensation. According to Delta’s website, their Contingency Plan for Lengthy Tarmac Delays “ensures that Delta will meet or exceed specified guidance as it pertains to provisioning, as follows: adequate food and potable water no later than two hours after the start of the tarmac delay, unless the pilot-in-command determines that safety or security considerations preclude such service; operable lavatory facilities; medical attention; cabin temperature conditions, and other customer comfort needs.”
- Compensation for damages: Passengers who suffer physical or emotional harm as a result of the prolonged tarmac delay may be able to seek compensation for their damages, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, or other related costs.
- Airline policies: Some airlines have specific policies in place to address tarmac delays. For example, United Airlines has a Tarmac Delay Contingency Plan that outlines the rights and options available to passengers in the event of an excessive tarmac delay.
- Department of Transportation (DOT) investigation: In cases where passengers experience significant harm or violations of regulations, the DOT may launch an investigation which could lead to fines for the airline, as well as potential compensation for affected passengers.
It is important for passengers to document the details of the incident, including the duration of the delay, the conditions on the plane, and any resulting harm or expenses. They should also keep records of any communication with the airline regarding the incident. If passengers believe they are entitled to compensation, they can contact an aviation attorney for specific guidance.
Kreindler attorneys have decades of experience successfully representing passengers who have been seriously injured due to an onboard event or airline cabin incident.
Learn more about our Airplane Passenger Injury practice.
Kreindler Passenger Injury Attorneys
Kreindler is the preeminent aviation accident law firm in the world. Since 1950, our aviation attorneys have served as leading counsel in nearly every major commercial aviation disaster litigation. Our airplane accident attorneys include pilots, engineers, and a former aviation maintenance specialist. The firm has successfully represented passengers injured aboard all means of aircraft. Our partners have authored numerous highly acclaimed books, articles, and treatises on aviation litigation.
Photo Credit: Delta flight 555 Boeing 757 airplane, Tomas Del Coro