Escape from ... a plane? If only Bruce Willis or Kurt Russell had been there to help. It sounds like an ideal premise for an action movie, but it's the sad reality of flying these days: More than 100 passengers aboard Continental's flight 1669 (from Caracas, Venezuela, to Newark) tried to protest their five-hour, stuck-on-the-plane delay after they were rerouted to Baltimore and required to stay aboard. Rather than busting out to the tarmac or terminals, Jerry Bruckheimer-style, the passengers instead had to answer to the police.
The New York Times reports passengers protested by clapping in unison and tapping on overhead bins. A pilot who felt this had gone on too long called the police. Authorities boarded the plane and escorted passengers into a secure area until the plane was ready to go on to Newark.
Endless delays, with passengers stuck on the plane, have been the story of the year. JetBlue held passengers for hours, Eileen Ogintz got stuck at JFK, and pilot shortages, pilot strikes, and other incidents have all combined to create horrific travel conditions, both from practical and customer-service standpoints.
Unfortunately, there is little passengers can do to remedy such a situation while on the plane. However, upon getting home, get involved with the movement for a Passenger Bill of Rights. You can also contact your representatives and senators to share your experiences and offer recommendations for improvement.
And believe me, with a long flight (including several connections) coming up for me in the near future, I'm trying to plan for the worst. If you think you may get stuck, stock up on plenty of snacks at the airport, plus diversions such as magazines, books, and carry-on games. Keep a cool head and try not to instigate your fellow passengers and flight staff.
And maybe download Escape from New York, Die Hard, and ConAir to your iPod before leaving.