File this under "What the Hell Were They Thinking?" Just weeks after the new DOT airline rule went into effect limiting tarmac delays to three hours comes word that passengers on a Virgin Atlantic flight diverted to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut yesterday were held on the ground as virtual hostages in intense heat and darkness for four hours. Apparently there were insufficient immigration officers to handle the unexpected arrival. The fact that Virgin and Bradley officials could not figure out a way to treat the passengers humanely does not speak well for either of them.
As for the potential fines for violating the three-hour delay rule? "This is a U.S. regulation," said a Virgin Atlantic spokesman. "We are a European carrier so we operate under European law. We haven't infringed any rules." Maybe not, but between you and the airport officials, you have infringed on the health, dignity, and peace of mind of more than 300 passengers, several of whom had to be hospitalized. You can read the story here.
Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is also Travel + Leisure's international editor.