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jul 16 2007

The 7 day flight delay

An airport is not a place where you can come away with much faith in human decency.

Just consider what happened at JFK for one week in late June and early July.

A Scottish discount carrier with the funny name of FlyGlobeSpan was scheduled on June 28 to depart from JFK airport and fly to Ireland.

It took a week to depart. The most galling part? The airline refused to rebook its passengers on flights served by other airlines.

Here's the skinny:

An engine problem--apparently caused by a lightning strike--prevented a plane from ever taking to the skies. FlyGlopeSpan only offers service on this route on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. As this was a Thursday night departure, FlyGlobeSpan didn't want to rebook the 240 passengers on another flight until its next scheduled departure.

The Scottish airline could have sent a rescue aircraft from the U.K. But, says the airline, regulations about how much time the crew needs to rest between flights meant that it would not have taken off any earlier than the time when the aircraft was expected to be repaired.

The airline put passengers up for the night. Another flight attempt was made the next day, but the plane wasn't yet ready for take-off. The airline put up passengers for another night, but refused to rebook them on the flights served by other airlines.

On Saturday, Glasgow airport closed because of an attempted car bombing.

As most of FlyGlobeSpan's planes and staff are headquartered in Glasgow, chaos erupted. Passengers at JFK airport say they were unable to receive information about the status of their flight. Eventually, the airline instructed its agents to begin sending its customers home via other airlines.

While the length of the delay was unusual, FlyGlobeSpan has received a lot of complaints from passengers, who have posted their gripes about a variety of flights on a variety of routes at the website AirlineQuality.com. (That website, by the way, is a good place for you to post comments on the quality of any flight you might take on any airline.)

This past weekend, FlyGlobeSpan finally issued an apology for its failure to keep its passengers informed of developments. It also apologized for failing to promptly rebook them on another airline's outbound flight when their own plane was clearly unable to fly. Lastly, it offered to reimburse passengers who used their own funds to book flights out of JFK.

(Thanks to the Irish Times and the blog Airline Confidential.)

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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