Why passengers must stay onboard during flight delays: An expert weighs in

Written by Emil Martesen

Aug.29 - 2023 11:52 PM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
An expert weighs in.

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As the world with ongoing air traffic chaos, passengers find themselves stuck on planes, waiting on the tarmac for extended periods.

The situation escalated when flights to and from the UK were grounded due to a 'technical issue' at air traffic control. Juliet Kennedy, the operations director at National Air Traffic Services, warned that it would take some time for flights to normalize.

The prolonged delays and cancellations have led to heightened tensions among travelers. Viral videos have emerged, including one where passengers argue with Ryanair staff after being stranded on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria.

The Reason Behind Staying Onboard

Many passengers wonder why they can't simply disembark during these delays. Sean Tipton, a spokesperson for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), clarified the situation.

According to Tipton, if there are issues with air traffic control systems, the plane waits for a slot to take off. The uncertainty surrounding the length of the delay makes it impractical to let passengers off, as reboarding would only cause further delays.

While it may be frustrating to remain on a stationary plane, Tipton emphasized that it's actually for the passengers' convenience.

European regulations state that passengers must be offered the option to disembark if the plane has been stationary for five hours, although such long delays are rare.

Even though the technical issue has been resolved, the ripple effects are significant. Over 1,200 flights were grounded or delayed on Monday, and an additional 200 flights have already been canceled.