Passengers call 911 after being stuck on Canadian airplane for hours

Story highlights

  • Passengers stuck aboard a Canadian flight call 911 over lack of food, water, air conditioning
  • Airline says situation was beyond its control; airport says it was ready to help get passengers off plane

(CNN)Most travelers have been frustrated by airline delays, but passengers stuck on a plane at Ottawa International Airport were fed up enough to call 911 -- and police came to help.

The Air Transat plane had been diverted to the Canadian airport because of bad weather on Monday, and was sitting on the tarmac for nearly four hours when authorities received several 911 calls from people on board, the airport said in a statement. Passengers said they were without food, water or air conditioning.
Air Transat said in a statement that the situation was "beyond our control," and that "exceptional traffic" at the Ottawa airport led to a shortage of loading bridges or stairs to allow the flight to disembark and replenish the aircraft's water reservoir. The airline also said the "shortage of fuel" explained the "lack of air conditioning on board for a time."
    Laura Mah, one of the passengers on Flight 157 from Brussels, Belgium, destined for Montreal, said passengers were unhappy with the airline's lack of action.
    "People started getting really frustrated. We got updates at the beginning, but then eventually they just stopped," she said. "Other passengers were very uncomfortable, hot and just wanted answers. We just kept getting the message that we needed to wait and the plane needs to refuel."
    Eventually, Mah said, police boarded the plane and began handing out water to passengers.
    The 911 calls triggered a "full emergency response" that included the Airport Emergency Response Service, Ottawa Paramedic Services and Ottawa Police Service, the airport said in a statement. Police treated one passenger, but airport officials did not specify what for.
    The Ottawa Airport said that it was disappointed in the airline's response, and airport personnel had been "ready to assist upon request."
    "We had a gate available and air stairs ready in the event that the airline decided to deplane. We also had buses on the tarmac ready to shuttle passengers to the terminal -- buses the authority purchased specifically for situations such as this," the statement said.
      "Neither the ground handling service nor the airline requested either of these during the event."
      Twenty Air Transat flights that were destined for Toronto and Montreal on Monday had to be diverted to Ottawa because of weather, the airline said. Fifteen of the flights were international and carried almost 5,000 passengers.