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Colorado mom angry at United Airlines after infant overheats

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jnelsoninjax    12,368

A Colorado mother is criticizing United Airlines for its response after her baby became overheated while their flight-delayed aircraft sat on the tarmac in Denver during Thursday’s heatwave.

Emily France, 39, an author from Superior, said airlines should allow passengers to leave delayed aircraft that become unbearably hot.

France told The Denver Post that her baby became overheated after they waited nearly two hours inside an airplane that was delayed on the tarmac at Denver International Airport, and that it took an estimated 30 minutes to leave the plane once she requested an ambulance.

“They were not equipped to handle it,” France said. “They couldn’t evacuate us. It was chaos. I really thought my son was going to die in my arms.”

France’s son, Owen, was recovering at home Friday after being treated Thursday at Children’s Hospital. Doctors said he has no underlying medical condition but was suffering from the heat, she said. Temperatures at DIA had reached 90 degrees before noon, according to the National Weather Service. France said Friday she was trying to recover emotionally and is leery about plans to fly to visit family over the July 4 holiday.

Heath Montgomery, a DIA spokesman, confirmed there was a medical call at 2:59 p.m. at a United gate for an infant experiencing shortness of breath. He referred other questions about the incident to United.

In an emailed statement to The Post, United said: “Yesterday, a child onboard flight 4644 at Denver International Airport experienced a medical issue while the aircraft was taxiing prior to takeoff. The pilot returned to the gate as our crew called for paramedics to meet the aircraft. Our thoughts are with the child and family, and we have been in contact to offer travel assistance.”

United experienced a public relations crisis in April when a video widely shared online showed security agents dragging a man off an overbooked flight in Chicago.

France planned to fly with Owen to El Paso, Texas, to join her husband, an astrophysicist, for a rocket launch. Their flight was scheduled to leave Denver at 1:50 p.m. Thursday, and France was one of the first passengers to board — around 1:20 p.m.

France was assigned to a seat in the rear of the plane and it was hot inside when she boarded, she said.

“There was just hot air coming from the vents,” she said.

The flight crew announced that bad weather on the planned route was forcing the pilot to fly a different path, which would require more fuel. Takeoff was delayed to allow the ground crew to add fuel, France said.

France said she put wet wipes on Owen’s neck and down his shirt to cool him. His body felt hotter as they sat in the aircraft, she said, and flight attendants brought ice in garbage bags to place on the 4-month-old.

“We just sat and sat and sat,” France said. “I hit my call button and said, ‘I think it’s getting dangerously hot back here.'”

Crew members allowed France and Owen to leave the aircraft for 20 minutes. They were called back for takeoff, but when France returned to their seat the flight was delayed again because of bad weather, she said.

Crew members allowed France to take Owen to the front of the aircraft, where she said she held the infant in front of the open door. Flight attendants brought more bags of ice, she said. Another woman traveling with a baby removed her child’s clothes and was holding a bag of ice against the child’s chest, she said.

Owen struggled in the heat, France said.

“His whole body flashed red and his eyes rolled back in his head and he was screaming,” France said. “And then he went limp in my arms. It was the worst moment of my life.”

France and other passengers begged for an ambulance. There appeared to be disagreement between the flight crew and the ground crew over whether stairs should be pushed to the aircraft or the airplane should return to the gate, she said.

France said she sobbed as she sat by the open door and waited as Owen drifted in and out consciousness. She estimates they waited 30 minutes before the airplane returned to the gate.

“They seemed completely unprepared for a medical emergency,” she said.

In all, France estimates they were on the airplane for more than two hours, finally getting into an ambulance about 3:45 p.m.

Current regulations prevent airlines from keeping passengers on the tarmac waiting to take off or taxi to a terminal sit on a plane for more than two hours. At two hours, they must provide bathroom breaks, drinks and food. At three hours, passengers must be allowed to exit the aircraft.

France thinks another benchmark should be set. “If the temperature in the plane gets above a certain level, passengers should be taken off immediately,” she said.

On Friday, France said she was still waiting to hear from United about her experience.

Source

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T3X4S    4,532

Wow - 

It would appear the airlines need a complete overhaul of their customer-facing guidelines.  My brother-in-law is a VP @ Southwest Airlines, it has helped explain the "thinking" behind the airlines' blunders (the logistics behind everything)  Of course, SWA has not experienced anything close to the other carriers, which he quickly points out :)

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DocM    16,651

"France thinks another benchmark should be set. “If the temperature in the plane gets above a certain level, passengers should be taken off immediately,” she said."

 

A perfectly reasonable suggestion, especially if there are children on board. Forcing them to stay aboard in such heat is no less criminal than leaving them locked in a car on a hot day.

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FloatingFatMan    19,056

Why wasn't the planes aircon system running in that heat?

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Skiver    1,960
3 minutes ago, FloatingFatMan said:

Why wasn't the planes aircon system running in that heat?

I don't think they are ever running when on the ground are they? I've always assumed it's kinda like trying to run the aircon in a car with the engine turned off, it might work for a while but you'll drain the battery and end up going nowhere.

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+Human.Online    8,677
4 minutes ago, Skiver said:

I don't think they are ever running when on the ground are they? I've always assumed it's kinda like trying to run the aircon in a car with the engine turned off, it might work for a while but you'll drain the battery and end up going nowhere.

The air circulation systems do run when on the apron.  I know because one of the first things I have to do is to close mine (they make me cough).

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Skiver    1,960
Just now, Nefarious Trigger said:

The air circulation systems do run when on the apron.  I know because one of the first things I have to do is to close mine (they make me cough).

1

It's been an unusually long time since I've been on a plane but I would have said I was certain that on the ground the planes aircon was at least running really low .

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+Human.Online    8,677
1 minute ago, Skiver said:

It's been an unusually long time since I've been on a plane but I would have said I was certain that on the ground the planes aircon was at least running really low .

It may be in a lesser "strength" or maybe just recirculated air, but the HVAC system is certainly still functioning and circulating cool air.

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Steven P.    14,379
5 minutes ago, Nefarious Trigger said:

It may be in a lesser "strength" or maybe just recirculated air, but the HVAC system is certainly still functioning and circulating cool air.

Depends what type it is, when i fly to Southampton from Amsterdam I am usually in a prop, and the aircon circulation system only works when the prop is actually running. I was sat in such a plane a couple years ago in July, engines down (was a faulty engine) for an hour before they let us off and cancelled the flight.

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+Human.Online    8,677
6 minutes ago, Steven P. said:

Depends what type it is, when i fly to Southampton from Amsterdam I am usually in a prop, and the aircon circulation system only works when the prop is actually running. I was sat in such a plane a couple years ago in July, engines down (was a faulty engine) for an hour before they let us off and cancelled the flight.

Do we know the aircraft, or guess at it from the type of flight?

 

UPDATE: Embraer 170/175

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embraer_E-Jet_family

2002 plane - not that old...

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Steven P.    14,379
7 minutes ago, Nefarious Trigger said:

Do we know the aircraft, or guess at it from the type of flight?

 

UPDATE: Embraer 170/175

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embraer_E-Jet_family

2002 plane - not that old...

It didn't help my discomfort a couple years ago :'( 

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jnelsoninjax    12,368

The last time I was on a plane ~2 years ago, I don't recall it being hot, and this was July, but I do vividly recall smelling the JP5/JET-A fuel, since I have been working on an active naval air station jet fuel is one of those smells that will remain with you for a long time. I made s comment to the flight attendant in regards to it, and she said she smelled it too, and would notify the pilot.  So my experience was rather pleasant all in all, and every time I read a news story about how the airlines mistreated the passengers, I am always wondering if there is a back story that we're not hearing, or are the airlines just total jerks?

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Steven P.    14,379
3 minutes ago, jnelsoninjax said:

The last time I was on a plane ~2 years ago, I don't recall it being hot, and this was July, but I do vividly recall smelling the JP5/JET-A fuel, since I have been working on an active naval air station jet fuel is one of those smells that will remain with you for a long time. I made s comment to the flight attendant in regards to it, and she said she smelled it too, and would notify the pilot.  So my experience was rather pleasant all in all, and every time I read a news story about how the airlines mistreated the passengers, I am always wondering if there is a back story that we're not hearing, or are the airlines just total jerks?

mWLFN6D.gif

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+SpeedyTheSnail    1,287

I worked at an airport for a year and was an aircraft mechanic for 5 years. They have connections to hook up air to, there is no reason a plane should get that hot.

 

See examples here: https://www.aerospecialties.com/product-category/pre-conditioned-air-service/air-conditioning-units/

 

Also, if they were adding more fuel, the other ground support equipment should have still been attached.

 

United is a crappy airline with crappier employees. I never liked dealing with them, they were all miserable people.

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