Continental Express Flight 2816 smelled like diapers. It had no food and a full toilet. Its 47 passengers had been stranded on a tarmac in southern Minnesota since after midnight.
"They are getting really upset — you know, with the plane," the captain told her dispatcher just before 3 a.m. on Aug. 8.
Recordings released Friday of conversations among the captain, dispatcher and staff for another airline at the Rochester, Minn., airport expose a breakdown that kept the plane sitting on the tarmac for almost six hours — for no clear reason — and triggered a Department of Transportation investigation, reports The Associated Press reports.
Instead, they were stuck on the ground for nearly six hours with just pretzels to eat, after the local representative of Mesaba Airlines erroneously cited security rules for refusing to allow the passengers off the plane.
"There was a complete lack of common sense here," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. "It's no wonder the flying public is so angry and frustrated."
Continental and ExpressJet made more than 30 phone calls in an effort to help passengers leave the aircraft, ExpressJet said in a statement, informs Reuters.
According to the investigation, the flight's pilot pleaded with an airline representative to let her passengers off the plane until they could depart again.
It appears that ExpressJet, which was operating the flight, was more correct in their original statement than people claimed. After the incident, the airline claimed they couldn't release passengers because they were told the security officials at the airport had gone home for the night. The airport hit back, claiming that wasn't true, Minneapolis City Pages informs.