Caribbean Airlines Passengers Stuck On Tarmac For 6 Hours At Newark Airport

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was anger and frustration at Newark Liberty International Airport Thursday after a group of passengers were left stuck on the tarmac for six hours.

Three hundred travelers on two Caribbean Airlines flights from Trinidad were diverted by the bad weather to Newark instead of their original destination — John F. Kennedy Airport.

Passengers waited in the planes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and said they really didn’t know why.

“I felt like I was claustrophobic,” 11-year-old Jasmine told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

“They didn’t have any food per se on the plane,” said Nikita Job of Somerset, N.J.

While passengers said they understood severe weather played a role in the delay, they were dumbfounded why it took so long just to get off their planes.

“It’s disgusting. It’s really terrible. I mean we’re human, nobody should have to go through this,” said Raj Wahid of Queens.

Pilot Paul Beston said Newark Airport does not service Caribbean Airlines — no computers, no staff, no customs paperwork and no gate. Despite new federal rules that feature a passenger Bill of Rights, the measure does not yet apply to international flights.

Calls by CBS 2 to both Caribbean Airlines and the Port Authority were not returned Thursday night.

So following their long wait, passengers were eventually taken home by bus.

“I hope it never happens again,” said Theresa Abraham of Long Island.

SOUND-OFF: Have a tarmac horror story of your own?  How would you have reacted in this situation?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below…

  • Loxley Lambert

    Caribbean Airlines flt 424 scheduled to leave Guyana 2:50PM Weds April 27 announces that flt is delayed until 4:00PM, at 4:00PM announcement is made that flt is further delayed and flt finally departs at 5:30PM.
    At approximately 6:30PM flt arrives in Trinidad and the Trini Passengers disembark, shortly thereafter an announcement is made that “ALL” passengers must exit the aircraft at Piarco .
    Passengers on their way to NY became furious The Trini Posse is summoned to control the crowd because Airport claimed that they have no explanation for the delay. After about 45 Minutes Airline announces that flt to NY is cancelled and passengers will be bussed to a hotel until the next flt out at 4:00AM Thursday that flt too was delayed and did not leave Piarco until 5:30AM Thurs.
    On its way to NY Capt announces that due to bad weather Flt must divert to Newark airport. It landed there at approx 10:00AM Thurs. Capt made several announcements each time reiterating that he does not know what was causing the delay inside Nwk Airport. Capt , Crew and Passengers all frustrated, anxious, agitated & to make matters worse kids on the plane been screaming, crying & banging against other people’s seat throughout the entire flight making it impossible to relax & take a shut-Eye. Incident on board required Ambulance crew.
    Finally around 6:30PM announcement is made that customs will come on board & give permission to disembark the plane. Passengers were bussed to the terminal where they had to wait for baggage to clear Customs. Those passengers from NY were bussed to NY.
    The last piece of luggage which happened to be mine finally came off the carousel at approx 8:00PM. WHAT AN ORDEAL.

    To all you folks posting here little do you know that the root cause of the problem was the Weather, NOBODY not the Airline, Pilot, or Customs have control over that. The problem is the manner in which information was relayed to the Capt, crew & passengers & the fact that there appears to be no system in place to mitigate the effects of such an emergency, even in light of the fact that this region has been experiencing some of the worst weather conditions lately.
    Never the less the Airline should have made better judgement by not taking off from Piarco, for that reason the Airline owes it to the Passengers to remedy this unpleasant situation by providing some relief; a discount coupun, a free extra luggage, something to show how committed they are to the safety and welfare of us who keep them in business.
    Personally I would rather stay in Trini until the weather cleared since the Accomodation wasn’ bad at all & I had all the time in the world .

  • Kevin

    Hey, we traveled with Caribbean Airlines (Codeshare w/North American) last year and we were stuck on the tarmac at JFK for 3 hours because of some mechanical problem. That was horrible, so I feel sorry for these 300+ people. They should make a claim to Caribbean Airlines on their site

    • Kevin (Forgot some stuff)

      It’s a shame that Delta doesn’t go to POS Anymore otherwise this probably won’t had have a huge impact like it did.

  • Junior

    The pilots should have diverted to an airport they have services at. The weather was not a surprise and unforecast, maybe that flight shoul not have launched to begin with, and why would they pick an alternate airport that they do nto service. As a pilot and a industry expert, I see some issues with this whole thing. They have to have an alternate to launch, and to launch with an alternate that is not an airport they service, well, any rocket scientist can see there would be some major problems with this. It was also handled wrong at EWR. They coul dhave rented stairs at EWR, Customs can still be done, they have cards to bring the aircraft and they can access all the pax and crew info form there, even if the flight was not going to EWR. They could have been processed, put on a bus, sent to JFK.

  • Chuckles

    Here is what I would do as an airport manager: Call an airline, borrow a set of stairs, get the loan of a bus from a car rental agency, find hangar space and some chairs for the (130+-) passengers, make sure the bathrooms are clean and have plenty of toilet tissue, call a mobile food service (or restaurant delivery, or pizza delivery), station a few cops to keep the crowd contained, visit the folks tell them you are sorry they are inconvenienced and tell them you will arrange for expedited departure when the weather clears. Stay with them, or assign someone to look after their needs. But then, I am not qualified for “public” service.

    • Nicolas

      Junior having an alternate with services require money. Services aren’t free and the only other destinations in north america for the airline are Toronto and Florida. Think about it, as a pilot how many times in your career have you had to land at your alternate and see if it makes sense for a small airline to pay for services at an alternate?

    • sandpsur

      Sorry, Chuck, you are overqualified to work for any government run entity. Competence is something to be feared and squashed at all costs in the public sector.



    • duh

      Why not have a bbq too? rent some amusement rides, cotton candy machine, project movies on the side of the hangar and hire some clowns, singers, dancers and fire eaters too!

      Bless your heart!

      • Sandspur

        If you gave them what Chuckles proposes, they’d create their own party! 8-)

      • Chuckles

        BBQ sounds good. Some or all of this may possibly be done within the promotions budget. Call the local TV stations and have them send a crew. Send everyone home with a good feeling about Newark. Or, we could take the usual “public service” attitude and do nothing.

        Of course all of this runs the risk of escaping passengers, OMG!
        Imagine the outrage at the TSA about allowing illegals loose within our borders. ;-)

      • Andrei

        they are still a business you know. They would never pay for all of that.

    • Newark Airport


      That would make sense, hence it wasn’t done.

  • luckydog

    They were operating on Island time: No problem mon!
    Alsp what kind of fools are running the Newark airport? It must require too much brain power for the Newark Airport manager to send out food, wated and assistance.
    Damn the stupidity!!!

  • MMMM

    I would not go to your blog, especially after putting up a moronic post here then advertising with it.

    • Hoodatis


      Bite my tarmac!

  • MMMM

    Just think. Airports are government entities, they cause this. It’s not the airlines it’s the airport that would not let them disembark. Next they will be running your healthcare, what do you think is going to happen to that.

  • Sandspur

    Life imitates “Atlas Shrugged”. No one will make a decision about what to do, because no one wants to shoulder any blame should something go amiss. And of course, having an actual plan for what to do in such a situation, however rare, is out of the question.

  • r.goodfellow

    As a retired airline employee, I would point out that it is usually the ground (airport) authorities who prohibit the disembarkation of passengers and crew, especially international flights. First getting an actual gate, then customs, immigration, baggage and refuelling, paperwork, all need someone to make it happen. At a regular airport there are people to take care of this. At a diversion, especially if others are diverting, there are none, and usually other carriers hands will be full of their own diversions, plus all the other “pop-ups”. Result usually, widespread chaos.

  • Kan

    Airlines are responsible for the welfare and safety of the passengers. It is quite ridiculous that they act so callously towards the passengers. It is almost as though the passengers are cattle.

    • Dennis Rutherford

      you people are idiots and know nothing about the problem at hand except your own personal issues. Do you really think the airline, pilots and flight attendents enjoyed sitting on the plane with you. Blame the problems on the same group that is the cause of all this country’s problems, the gov’t

      • dennisidiot

        what a looser you are what do you work for US AIR???? It’s Obamas fault he is in charge…. Oh ya where’s the CHANGE…

      • Dagwood Kensington


        Eat my luggage!

  • Moses

    Usual disregard to passangers, nothing new from CA.

  • Jeff

    I would stage a revolt, plain and simple

    • Jorge Samosa

      and you would be carted off to prison for your efforts.

      • MMMM

        Yep, Open after a few hours I tell the flight attendant “either we go to the gate or I go to jail for opening the door and going down the slide” Jail is a better alternative than sitting on an airplane for 6 hours. It is just not going to happen.

  • Philip

    The stupidity, incompetence and indifference of the Americal airline and airport industry nowadays beggars belief. Think of check-in staff, security and the TSA morons (thugs standing around), arrogant Bible belt pilots and old, fat, patronising female flight attendants. But this has been going on for many years, people. Personally, I refuse to fly a US carrier and have not taken a domestic flight within the USA since 2004 so as to minimise my exposure to the criminal idiocy of American ground staff and flight crew. I always stick to European airlines when flying transatlantic to the USA, even if their Business Class fares are marginally more expensive. Lufthansa, British Airways, SAS, KLM, hell even Iberia is preferable to American, United or Delta!

    • John

      So where does Caribbean Airlines fit in there?

      • Philip

        I did not mention Caribbean Airlines, as obviously the passengers were victims of Newark Airport incompetence. But think of all those times US carriers strand their passengers on the tarmac! I can personally remember 3 domestic flights in 2003 alone! My comment was mainly directed towards the American airline and airport industry.

    • MMMM

      This has nothing to do with “Americal” airline and the airports are not an industry, they are part of the government. Just think, next they will be running your healthcare…

  • JonnyM

    The international aviation agency (IAA) needs to make it a policy that every airport has to provide a “rescue partner”waiting room for inconvenienced international airlines, or diverted airlines which have to land at a terminal where they have no office. The airline which uses the “rescue partner”‘s facilities can have a policy agreement of reimbursing the rescuer for the use of the facilities during the layover. PROBLEM SOLVED!!!!!

  • David

    I am a Trinidadian living in Trinidad and have traveled extensively. ?Unfortunately your oversimplification will convey the wrong impression to persons who are not familiar with the Caribbean. I take exception to that and can think of situations where customer service in the US was poor or non-existent.

    • Sherma Williams Knights

      This exact thing happen to me last October.I was stuck on the tarmac for 6 hours on a Jet blue plane going from JFK to Lax due to bad weather this is nothing new that has happen.And all we got then was water and soda and not even an apology. Caribbean Airlines still got a ride home on a bus we didn’t even get that it was like your flight is cancelled now bye see you.

  • JR
  • Tamara Titus

    I am an American living in the Caribbean. This just sounds like an average day experience for those of us who live down here. No one is in a hurry for anything or anyone and customer service is an unknown art. Everything is hurry up and wait here…therefore being stranded on a plane that bears the log of Caribbean does not surprise me in the least.

    • Lisa

      Tamara, I am a Caribbean national living abroad, and I have to say it’s true that things in the Caribbean are more laid back than, say, Washington. But that’s no reason to bash the region and the entire service industry there. In fact, being laid back is one of the unique qualities that makes the Caribbean an attractive place to visit & settle for many. I do agree that good customer service is hard to come by in some parts of the Caribbean where tourism is not the mainstay, but there are certainly many parts that have excellent customer service and pride themselves in it. Aren’t there also parts of America where customer service is poor, and others where it’s excellent? When you post a comment like this it makes the region that currently feeds & clothes you look bad, and gives fellow Americans and other foreigners a false negative impression of it. If you dislike it so much then maybe you should consider returning to America, rather than staying there & defaming it.

      • RAS

        GREAT comment LIsa !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Never bite the hand that feeds you! Amercians tend tio always criticise others without seeing the negatives in themsleves. Tamara is even suggesting that the pilots et al from the stranded Caribbean Airlines flight had a choice in the situation.This situation clearly shows the lack of professional courtesy that exists in America for any organisation or person Non-American.

      • novdragon52

        Maybe some should leave the USA, and go back and defent it to make things right …

      • George D'Juran

        Lisa, as a Trinidadian living in Trinidad I will confirm that Tamara is correct. Service in many Government run companies is poor or non existent. And Caribbean airlines has a poor customer service record.
        Telling Tamara to go back home because she says the truth (which may offend some) is hypocritical. If the situation was reversed and an American told you to go back home for complaining….many would cry racism etc. that is a reality.

      • RAS

        George as a Trini you should show more patrioitism .Are you suggesting that customer service is totally non-existent in Trinidad? Do you think that is a fair statement? Have you been able to experience EVERY facet of customer service be it from public service or private? I have experienced exemplar customer service in both sectors as well as disappointing service in Trinidad . Did you not understand the slant of Lisa’s comment? She started off by agreeing that the lack of customer service does exist but Tamara’s comment was indeed not an objective one and one-siided and totallly missed the essence of the story at hand. Lisa’s comment of going back if you are unhappy in a situation is warranted and would apply even to Caribbean nationals living abroad who are also complaining -if you do not like it leave.

      • George D'Juran

        What does saying it as it is have to do with patriotism? if you read my first post you would see that I said service in MANY GOVERNMENT RUN COMPANIES ( of which CA is one.) is poor and non existent. I have had terrible experiences with CA and its predecessor BWIA ..Total rudeness and incompetence in the past and will not give CA my hard earned money again. It took 2 years to get a renewal on my passport…that is pathetic service…from a Government institution also.CA treats people like the License office in respect for citizens time. I have a right to voice my complaint.

        • RAS

          George I understand your frustration but we digress. I am certain that the majority of the passengers on that plane were our own citizens. Our citizens were treated poorly and we should use these forums to lend our support to the issue at hand. I say patriotism because when voicing your opinion especially in these international forums (i.e. airing dirty laundry in public) you should always try to portray your country in the best light possible, yes be honest about the negatives in the system it is your right but also discuss the positives. Remember we are all ambassadors.
          Let us agree to disagree, such a pity that our voices here in digital media go to naught and add no value. If only our opinions would effect positive change.

          Anyway from one Trini to another take it easy (no pun intended)

  • FlyersRights Kate Hanni

    We are fighting mad at FlyersRightsorg and are trying to prevent these tarmac strandings permanently in Congress. The International Air Transport Association isi in the halls of Congress right now trying to Convince Congress NOT to pass an airline passengers bill of rights with a 3 hour rule. They want international flights excluded from the rule. please write your Congressman and Senators NOW and tell them enough is truly enough. Pass the Airline Passengers Bill of Rights in Congress and make these rules into law and make them permanent. Airline Passengers should have more rights than prisoners of war, but right now they don’t!

  • Leeanne

    We understand Newark Airport as not being a Caribbean Airlines “Carrier”, but due to a situation beyond their control, the Airline was directed there. How difficult would it have been to take them off the plane, place them in a room until the bad weather had subsided or do something else humane. These were people not cargo.

  • Gabby

    My grandmother was on that flight and I think it was really horrible how they kept my family and elderly grandmother held captive on that plane. It’s crazy …. Nobody should have to feel trapped on a plane that has already landed for hours…

    • Sarah Richardson

      Perhaps there is a miracle here that the plane didn’t take off and everyone end up dead. We should count our miracles. The Airlines however, should perhaps refuse to board people without clearance already in hand. Fly savely folks. Look at the news and you will see that the airways are not good luck right now.

      Take care and G-d’s speed.
      Sarah Chaya

  • Jay

    I’d be the first one out of the emergency chute. Sitting there not moving, or knowing when you’ll move again is claustrophobic hell and a form of torture. I feel sorry for all those passengers and hope someone sues the pants off those responsible. Wait until it happens to you and then you’ll know what I mean. If you are even the least bit claustrophobic, don’t fly. The bureaucrats running the airports have no common sense and care nothing for the common people sitting on the planes. It’s sad we need a law calling for basic human rights at airports and on aircraft. All we ask for is food, water, and space.

    • steve

      seriously BIG WHOOP. 6 hours? that is like the same as a flight to europe… people will complain about anything

      • Egbert Trafalgar


        You are too stupid to understand the complaint, so f*** off..

    • steve

      flying isn’t a RIGHT by the way

      • RAS

        Steve your comment is somewhat incomplete flying is a RIGHT once it is PAID for . On flights to Europe it is planned and the necessary ameneties are provided. If this was an American airline carrier your comment would take a different slant I am sure. This ia a valid complaint from human beings who were inconvenienced ,what would you have done? smile sweetly and compliment them for treating you in that manner?

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