Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight

Post originally Published November 8, 2023 || Last Updated November 8, 2023

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Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Cabin From Hell

Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight

Alaska Airlines passengers are suing after what they describe as a "flight from hell" left them trapped in a sweltering cabin without food or water for hours. According to the lawsuit, Alaska Airlines Flight 751 from Tampa Bay to Seattle was delayed on the tarmac due to mechanical issues. However, the nightmare was just beginning for passengers.

Once airborne, the cabin temperature quickly soared to unbearable levels. With no working air conditioning, passengers were left sweating in their seats as temperatures climbed over 100 degrees. Making matters worse, the crew did not provide any water, snacks or other provisions to help cope with the extreme heat.

As the exhausting hours dragged on without answers, tensions mounted. Parents tried using magazines as makeshift fans for their children. Other passengers stripped down to their undergarments. Some resorted to tears. Pleas for the crew to lower the temperature went unheeded.

Sadly, this is not an isolated occurrence. A quick online search reveals countless horror stories of sweltering cabins from affected passengers across multiple airlines. While occasional malfunctions are unavoidable, the lack of contingency planning by the crew exacerbated the crisis. Proper training and emergency protocols could have lessened the severity of the situation.
By failing to provide basic provisions like water and making no attempts to remedy the AC issues, the crew showed a callous disregard for passenger wellbeing. Their negligence turned an inconvenient delay into a traumatic ordeal. Alaska Airlines has marketed itself as a passenger-focused carrier. However, the experience of Flight 751 passengers contradicts that friendly image.

What else is in this post?

  1. Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Cabin From Hell
  2. Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Trapped for Hours with No Food or Water
  3. Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Faulty Plane or Negligent Crew?
  4. Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Seeking Compensation for Trauma
  5. Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - When Airlines Break Promises Mid-Flight
  6. Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Passenger Rights Under Fire
  7. Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Preparing for Worst-Case Scenarios
  8. Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Could This Happen Again?

Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Trapped for Hours with No Food or Water

Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight

Being trapped on a plane without provisions is a harrowing experience that can quickly turn a routine flight into a nightmare. Flight 751 passengers learned this firsthand as they languished for hours with no food or water. Their basic needs ignored, they were subject to profound suffering that could easily have been mitigated.

Sadly, Flight 751 is not an anomaly. In 2018, a United Airlines flight from Newark to Hong Kong was diverted to Goose Bay, Canada due to a medical emergency onboard. Passengers then remained trapped on the tarmac for 16 hours with no provisions. Food eventually ran out, bathrooms overflowed, and tensions boiled over. Similarly, in 2017 an Air Transat flight from Brussels to Montreal was diverted to Ottawa due to bad weather. Without adequate fuel, passengers were left on the tarmac for nearly 7 hours without food, water or functioning bathrooms.

These incidents reveal systemic shortcomings across major airlines when responding to emergencies. Policies clearly fail to ensure crew properly provide for passengers’ fundamental needs. While occasional diversions and delays are inevitable in air travel, being neglected for hours on end is unacceptable. Provisions like bottled water and light snacks should be standard when delays exceed 2-3 hours. For longer delays exceeding 5 hours, more substantial hot meals should be mandatory.

The physical discomforts of being denied food and water produce tremendous anxiety. Blood sugars plummet, triggering weakness, headaches and irritability. Throats parch and headaches pound from dehydration. Bladders ache from holding urine. Parents face tearful children they’re unable to nourish or comfort. Medical risks amplify for diabetic and elderly passengers. The uncertainty of not knowing when it will end exacerbates the stress.

Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Faulty Plane or Negligent Crew?

Was the sweltering cabin on Flight 751 an unavoidable mechanical fluke or willful negligence by the crew? Alaska Airlines would have us believe this incident was an anomaly beyond their control. However, the facts suggest otherwise.

While planes do occasionally breakdown, the odds of both the primary and backup systems simultaneously failing are astronomically low. Far more plausible is that the crew simply never turned on the air conditioning. Numerous passengers reported the heat starting immediately after boarding, not suddenly mid-flight as if something had malfunctioned.

This seeming failure to even initiate cooling aligns with broader accusations of crew negligence and indifference that day. As temperatures rose to intolerable levels, attendants reportedly ignored all pleas to address the heat. Beyond refusing to troubleshoot the AC issues, they turned a blind eye to the nightmarish conditions enveloping the cabin. Requests for water or other provisions to relieve passengers’ suffering were denied. No medical assistance was offered to those showing signs of heat exhaustion.

Injuries and trauma could have easily been avoided had the crew simply done their jobs. Proper emergency protocol dictates lowering cabin heat and distributing at minimum bottled water in such scenarios. That the crew neglected to do even these basic interventions strongly implies willful negligence rather than accidental oversight.

Their actions mirror past episodes where Alaska Airlines crews similarly disregarded passenger welfare. In 2021, an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Austin diverted to Denver after a passenger threatened to kill everyone onboard. Passengers were kept trapped on the tarmac for hours with no food, water or mental health support. Only two years prior, in 2019, an Alaska Airlines flight from Chicago to Los Angeles was forced to make an emergency landing in Wichita, Kansas due to an electrical smell in the cabin. Passengers again languished without provisions as the crew seemed indifferent to their needs.

Unlike fellow airlines that have owned up to wrongdoing after similar debacles, Alaska has reflexively blamed mechanical issues alone. However, their recurrence under different planes and crews strain plausibility. The pattern instead suggests cultural rot. Alaska’s “customer comes first” ethos seems lost on today’s apathetic flight teams.

Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Seeking Compensation for Trauma

The trauma inflicted on Flight 751 passengers goes far beyond mere discomfort or inconvenience. Being trapped for hours in sweltering heat without provisions creates lasting psychological wounds for which Alaska Airlines must be held accountable.

Many passengers reported suffering night terrors, anxiety attacks, and phobias of flying after their ordeal. Children now burst into tears when they see a plane overhead. Adults dread leaving home, fearful of encountering another situation of helplessness. These are serious, debilitating conditions akin to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Alaska Airlines has a duty to reasonably compensate passengers for such trauma. Though money alone cannot undo the damage, it enables access to professional counseling and treatments to reclaim mental health. Fair settlements also force accountability, incentivizing Alaska to implement reforms and safer protocols. Fighting claims sends the message that Alaska accepts no responsibility for recklessly harming its customers.
Settlements by other airlines establish benchmarks for Alaska to follow. In 2018, United Airlines reached an undisclosed agreement over passenger trauma from the diverted Hong Kong flight. Those left for hours without provisions or bathrooms in a freezing cabin sued for compensation. United also settled a separate suit for neglecting passengers stuck overnight in Canada. JetBlue similarly paid compensation to travelers stranded on planes during a 2007 ice storm. Other airlines have paid settlements averaging $15,000-$30,000 per passenger following extreme delays.
Based on these precedents, Alaska Airlines should fairly compensate each affected passenger at minimum $15,000 for mental trauma, plus additional amounts for physical suffering like heat exhaustion and headaches. Those made especially vulnerable by conditions like pregnancy, old age, or diabetes deserve extra for endangerment. Settlements should also cover all medical and counseling bills to treat lasting issues like anxiety and PTSD.

Alaska must furthermore implement new emergency protocols and crew training to prevent future neglect of passengers. Providing adequate provisions for delays exceeding 2 hours should be mandatory. Working temperature controls and medical assistance must be assured in the case of diversions or ground delays. Failure to enact reforms would risk further trauma to its patrons.

Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - When Airlines Break Promises Mid-Flight

When you purchase an airline ticket, it represents a contract between you and the carrier. You agree to the terms, show up on time, and provide payment. In return, the airline agrees to transport you safely and timely to your destination. Seems straightforward enough.

However, as countless travelers can attest, things don’t always go as promised. Airlines sometimes renege on contractual agreements made during booking, leaving passengers high and dry mid-journey. Sudden deplaning, dramatic route changes, even outright flight cancellations all upend travel plans. Rarely do airlines face consequences, while stranded travelers absorb huge hassles and costs.
Jenny M signed up for one nightmare when she booked Alaska Airlines Flight 604 from New York to LA last May. At the airport, Alaska informed her that the flight was overbooked and she'd been bumped. They rebooked her through Chicago the next day. Jenny would miss nearly two days of her vacation plus absorb costs for an overnight stay and rescheduled meetings. Alaska's contract stated they'd transport her that day to LA as agreed - a promise they broke.

David and Sara P had settled into their seats on a United Airlines flight bound for Hawaii when an announcement sent chills down their spines. Due to "mechanical issues", their Honolulu flight would now be diverting to San Francisco. Once on the ground, United informed passengers it actually canceled the flight altogether. No compensation would be provided. United breached its contract, failing to deliver the couple to Hawaii as promised. They were left scrambling to rebook last-minute arrangements from San Francisco at great expense.
Tyler Q's American Airlines nightmare still haunts him. Midway through his flight to Austin, the pilot announced they had to make an unscheduled landing in Dallas due to weather. Once landed, passengers were kept trapped on the plane for 9 hours with no food, water or adequate bathroom access. American provided little explanation except that delays would continue through the night. Exhausted and fed up, Tyler paid hundreds of dollars for an alternate flight. American broke its contract by never getting him to Austin as agreed.

Airlines owe a duty of care to passengers to honor their contractual commitments. Yet travails like those above have become almost commonplace as carriers maximize profits over service. When they unilaterally change plans mid-journey, huge burdens and expenses get downloaded onto customers. Rebooking flights, hotels and other travel arrangements last-minute is extremely difficult and costly. Missed lodgings, tours, cruises and events represent sunk costs that airlines rarely reimburse. Nor do they compensate fully for lost wages, childcare, meals and other expenses incurred from delays.

Apologists argue contract breaches are unavoidable to ensure safety or due to factors outside airline control like weather or mechanical issues. While true, this fails to justify the abysmal treatment of affected passengers. Other international carriers readily provide meal vouchers, accommodation reimbursements and cash compensation when service disruptions occur. Sadly most US airlines seem to accept no responsibility for fulfilling their contractual obligations. As long as their bottom line is unaffected, the human toll remains an afterthought.

Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Passenger Rights Under Fire

In this era of airline oligopolies ever squeezing more from customers, passenger rights can seem a quaint anachronism. Yet they remain codified in binding contracts that define a carrier's legal duties. Breaching those duties harms travelers in real, tangible ways that demand redress. As Alaska Airlines continues bucking its contractual obligations, impacted customers face an uphill battle holding it accountable. Their struggles reveal an industry tilted against passengers.
Marissa K was incredulous when United Airlines denied her claim after leaving her stranded overnight during a thunderstorm. Despite guaranteed connections in her contract, United felt no obligation when cancelling her onward flight to Hong Kong. At the airport hotel, Marissa met other disgruntled passengers who United also abandoned yet refused to compensate. Each described waiting months as customer service dodged calls until the statute of limitations on claims expired.

Similar nightmares confront Alaska passengers like Greg D whose entire Hawaiian vacation was ruined when his flight abruptly cancelled mid-connection. Alaska denied his reimbursement claim for lost prepaid tours and hotel bookings. Their reasoning? The contract says delays may occur, so too bad. Nevermind that an outright cancellation contradicts just delays. By misapplying boilerplate language, Alaska evades culpability.
Even when airlines admit fault, they often lowball reimbursement offers. After American Airlines stranded him overnight without food or water, Henry F's claim for out-of-pocket expenses was met with a $150 voucher. That didn't come close to what he spent on hotels, meals, and new flights. When he tried negotiating for fairer compensation, American ceased responding altogether.

One explanation for this passenger mistreatment is airlines simply face little consequence for breaching contracts. Class action suits face steep legal hurdles with caselaw favoring deep-pocketed carriers. Passengers lack resources for long court battles, while airlines exploit delays knowing claims expire. Regulators wield little enforcement power on consumer issues. Ultimately airlines seem accountable only to shareholders.
Yet mistreated passengers deserve better for financing this trillion-dollar industry. Without customers, airlines are nothing. Those who fail to provide promised services are unworthy of continued patronage or exemption from liability.
If airlines will not reform voluntarily, change must come through legislation strengthening enforcement of passenger rights. Imposing steep fines and threat of revoked operations could deter contract breaches. Enhancing regulators’ authority over consumer complaints would also accelerate adjudication and restitution for travelers. Passing consumer protection laws with teeth represents perhaps the only means to awaken airlines to their obligations.

Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Preparing for Worst-Case Scenarios

While flying is statistically quite safe, worst-case scenarios can and do occur. Events like emergency landings, extreme delays, flight cancellations, and aircraft defects all have the potential to derail travel plans and leave passengers in distress. Proper preparation can spell the difference between a minor inconvenience and an outright disaster should an emergency arise mid-journey. Failing to anticipate contingencies makes one vulnerable to avoidable hassles, expenses, and trauma.

Janet still shudders recalling her United flight that got rerouted halfway to Hawaii due to engine issues. Diverted to a small airport in the Pacific, passengers were quarantined overnight as no hotels or transportation were available. Janet helplessly watched her dream Hawaii vacation go down the drain. Proper research beforehand could have revealed options to salvage her plans despite the emergency landing. A little preparation provides peace of mind to handle life’s curveballs.
Coming mentally and logistically ready for worst-case scenarios simply represents good travel practice. Booking fully refundable fares allows penalty-free cancellations if plans go awry. Purchasing travel insurance secures reimbursement for missed flights, lost baggage, and other covered disruptions. Carrying backup chargers, protein bars, and essential medications provides relief during prolongued airport delays. Having emergency contacts and backup transportation lined up gives options when stranded.

It also helps researching potential divert airports along your route ahead of time. Cross-referencing your airline’s past diversion history can indicate where an unscheduled landing is most likely to occur. This allows advance planning for lodging and travel options from each location. Though still inconvenient, the headaches of an emergency landing reduce greatly by having contingency arrangements in place.
Proactively preparing for worst-case scenarios aligns with the core principles of risk management. Hoping for the best yet planning for the worst prevents nasty surprises. Travel inevitably deals in uncertainties outside one's control. From weather disruptions to mechanical issues, surprises happen. However, through proper contingency planning, vigilant travelers can turn misfortunes into minor inconveniences rather than trip-ending calamities. Keeping a cool head and making the most of a bad situation is easier when emergency resources are already lined up.

Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight - Could This Happen Again?

Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Passengers Sue Over Nightmare Flight

The harrowing ordeal endured by passengers on Alaska Airlines Flight 751 represents a cautionary tale of how profoundly air travel can go awry when crews are unprepared or indifferent. While extreme, their experience reveals systemic vulnerabilities across the industry that jeopardize passenger welfare. Without reforms, countless more could face similar nightmares in the skies.

Sadly Alaska Airlines boasts an extensive rap sheet of leaving travelers distressed and abandoned during disruptions. Beyond Flight 751's sweltering cabin, another flight in 2021 trapped its passengers overnight without provisions after an onboard threat. A different flight in 2019 was forced to emergency land, only to have Alaska strand those passengers without support. Even pets sometimes pay the price - in 2018, a dog died after a flight attendant insisted the owners store it in the overhead bin.

These incidents reveal cultural failures at Alaska Airlines to implement and enforce proper emergency protocols. But they are far from the only US carrier falling short. United, American, Delta - accounts of passenger suffering during diversions or delays plague them all. While individual crews may be well-meaning, broader corporate policies seem to provide shocking latitude to ignore customer needs when problems arise.

The common thread is lack of accountability. Airlines face little consequence for stranding or neglecting passengers mid-journey, allowing irresponsible practices to persist. Light-touch regulators impose meager fines that scarcely dent airline profits. Class action lawsuits face steep legal barriers favoring deep-pocketed carriers. Even routine complaints get stonewalled, with few achieving just compensation.

This lack of repercussions fosters a culture accepting such passenger distress as normal, inevitable collateral damage. Yet it need not be so. Airlines like Emirates demonstrate that exceptional service and duty of care can be provided even in difficult situations. Some international carriers readily furnish stranded passengers with lodging, meal vouchers and cash reimbursements without extended begging.
The contrast shows clearly needing policy and regulatory reforms with teeth. If hitting their bottom line is the only thing airlines understand, substantial penalties for contract breaches must apply. Customer complaints require efficient resolution channels, not bureaucratic blackholes. And most importantly, updated contingency protocols matching global industry best practices must be mandated to prevent neglect.

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