Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images; @js_ferland/Twitter; @lauralmah/Twitter
Stacey Leasca
August 02, 2017

It seems like every day a new airline finds itself in hot water over its treatment of passengers, and today is no different.

This time, it’s Canada’s Air Transat that is in the spotlight after two of its planes were stuck at the Ottawa airport for hours, stranding hundreds of passengers onboard.

On Monday, Air Transat Flight 157, which originated in Brussels, was scheduled to arrive in Montreal at 3:15 p.m., but was diverted to Ottawa due to weather conditions, CBC reported.

The plane landed at Ottawa airport just after 5 p.m. and sat on the tarmac for a full six hours. During that time the flight lost power and reportedly failed to provide passengers with food and water for an extended period of time.

"The plane actually lost power and went zero AC [air conditioning], and then now we've got the doors open and one kid is puking, and people are just losing their minds," Laura Mah, a passenger onboard the flight, told CBC.

"They're just getting mad, saying, 'This is not all right, this is not OK, you can't do this to us.' The police are in here and the fire department's in here and they're telling us that they can't do anything, that we just have to stay put."

Things got so bad aboard the grounded flight that one passenger called 911, according to Mah.

"I'm super pissed," Mah said while still aboard the flight. "I'm just really hot, I'm sweating, and I haven't eaten…I'm hungry and they only rationed the food to give little snacks to kids, which is good. Luckily, they started bringing in bottles of water from the outside, like 45 minutes ago, but no food. I'm starving."

Eventually, the flight did take off and made its way to Montreal. It landed eight hours and 15 minutes behind schedule, meaning its total flight time was more than 15 hours.

The second grounded Air Transat flight luckily didn’t have it quite as bad. According to CBC, that flight sat on the tarmac for just over four hours before taking off for Montreal. It arrived to its final destination five hours and 20 minutes late.

For its part, Air Transat shared a simple apology statement, blaming an unusual amount of traffic at the Ottawa airport for the long stay.

"We are sincerely sorry for the inconvenience that this situation, which was beyond our control, may have caused our passengers," the statement said.

However, the airport is refuting Air Transat’s explanation, sharing in a statement that "We had a gate available and air stairs ready in the event that the airline decided to deplane.”

It added that airport staff were prepared to bring supplies to the stranded passengers, but never received clearance from the airline.

"We keep a supply of water, food, diapers and other personal hygiene necessities to support passenger needs in irregular operation scenarios, and were prepared to deploy these supplies," the authority said.

It claimed that staff tried to contact the aircrew “several times” but that it was non-communicative. "We are disappointed that Air Transat has not been forthcoming, transparent or accountable with information concerning their diverted flights," the statement added.

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