HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) –Homeowners weren’t the only victims of the freak weekend storm  — so were hundreds of passengers on stranded flights.

For one disabled man from Staten Island, being stuck on a plane for nine hours was more than an inconvenience, it was a matter of life and death.

Saturday afternoon, JetBlue flight 504 was trying to land at Newark Liberty Airport, but technical problems forced it to be diverted to Hartford’s Bradley International Airport.

Jimmy Brown, of Huguenot, who’s been in a wheelchair since diving into shallow water seven years ago, says hours went by and nothing happened.

“Four, five, six hours. People were getting crazy,” Brown told CBS 2’s Don Dahler.

And still, they sat. The plane ran out of food, water, then the lavatories were locked shut.  But for Brown, not using the bathroom presented a health risk of potential infection, or worse.

His wife, Francine, sent a text to her family, asking that they save them. Finally, Jimmy simply had to go.

“You’re throwing blankets over your head and me and her under the blanket. Got a clip over here, I’m unbuttoning my pants. I have to cath right in my chair. It’s a little degrading,” Brown said.

“I’m very upset. I’m very shaken up by it. Difficult,” said Brown’s wife, Francine.

The pilot told air traffic control he had a paraplegic on board and begged for help.

“Look, you know, we can’t seem to get any help from our own company. I apologize for this, but is there any way you can get a tug and a tow bar out here to us and get us towed somewhere to a gate or something. I don’t care — take us anywhere,” the pilot pleaded.

But that never happened. Finally nine hours after landing, firefighters came on board, carried him down the stairs and into the airport.

“I don’t see why that couldn’t have been done hours before,” Brown said. “Why wait until 9 or 10 o’clock at night?”

On Monday, JetBlue released a statement, which says in part “We apologize to the customers impacted by this confluence of events, as it remains JetBlue’s responsibility to not simply provide safe and secure travel, but a comfortable experience as well.”

JetBlue declined an interview with CBS 2, but said in a statement that weather problems “made refueling and … deplaning difficult.”

Bradley International Airport said handling 23 diverted planes stretched their resources to the limit. The Department of Transportation is investigating.

JetBlue could be fined $27,000 per passenger for failing to follow the passenger bill of rights.

Does the prospect of being stuck on a plane keep you from flying? Sound off in our comments section below…

Comments (25)
  1. Boomer says:

    Wasn’t JetBlue the same airline which on Valentine’s Day 2010 had a plane on the tarmac for 10+ hrs and would not allow passengers to disembark?

  2. Steve Miller says:

    This is typical of 2011 United States. Nobody wants to take responsibility for anything. “It’s not in my job description.” “I’m not being paid to make those decisions.” “It’s not my responsibility.” “Why should I give a ___.” A really sad commentary of where we have gone.

  3. charles thomas says:

    There is a real simple fix for this. Mandate that all airports have 1 gate unassigned just for emergencies like this. No need for flyer rights or wasting money on Congressional hearings.

  4. PaispRipleges says:

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  5. liz says:

    I this is UNACCEPTABLE! and OUTRAGEOUS!!! How could they allow this to happen!!! I am certain within a couple of hours this could have been handled. An ABSOLUTE DISGRACE! Those passengers should be compensated for pain and suffering. Just AWFUL

  6. Debra O says:

    Absolutely…. But why did Jet Blue corporate not help their aircraft that were stranded??? The poor pilots and attendants wanted off as badly as the passengers. It could have lead to riot and panic as people had enough and freaked. Pleas for help unheeded… This is an airport and and government issue. Disgraceful that common sense did not prevail and just plain compassion for ALL those stranded planes. Obviously no emergency contingency plans. had I been on that plane I would have gone out of my mind… I’d have been calling 911 too. ANYBODY to get me off that plane. Terrible for ALL those poor people .

    1. Debra O says:

      I meant absolutely it was fault of more than just an airline, not to the comment above . Just wanted to clarify

  7. Art says:

    I say fault the airport on this one. There needs to be fines on this which I bet end up being split by Airport and Jet Blue. How hard to open the door and get some stairs to the damn plane! Somebody in management dropped the ball on this one.

  8. Geoff says:

    2 Round Trip tickets for all those passengers to anywhere Jet Blue flies…I think that would be fair

  9. KY Belly says:

    We pretend we are in a world where everyone is alike ,no Catheters
    no Insulin injections,no movement diseases ,no emotionally ill passengers
    no elderly people or infants with special needs amongst us but this is not the real world, awful for JetBlue perhaps they gave us the Blues ,bigtime and I ain’t
    talking about the sky.

  10. Pat Johnson says:

    “regulations not by the boo (good Fruedian slip) but by the book”

  11. Pat Johnson says:

    Having worked with many Government regulations ,I think many people
    are at fault here, one issue may be that no one had the authority to know
    what to do so with so many regulations from varied agencies when all these
    aircraft were diverted at once regulations by the boo all of which
    are great when working according to schedule, but a disaster when needing
    common sense and compassion ,when things go wrong .

  12. Sonny V. says:

    Passenger Bill of Rights – Richie is correct. No excuse. JetBlue went through this not too long ago- seems there will be payouts – BIG ones. Anytime you are sitting on a tarmac more than 2 hours is an issue. Let the FAA look at this one. At a minimum it’s Hartford International, followed by JetBlue. Let the two of the subrogate the damages. I would give this person alone lifetime free travel – everyone else $5k each. Let JetBlue and HIA dig into their escrows – and hopefully the FAA will give them a good million plus fine.

  13. billyboy says:

    Airport is at fault, period. Roll out some stairs, open a door, easy. It’s a domestic flight, it really comes down to being lazy or incompetent. I’m sure one of the hundreds of ‘management types’ at Bradley could have had the balls to do the right thing. Maybe they just didn’t have the balls.

  14. Charles Adrian Duran says:

    I am glad Jetblue owned up to their mistake But the majority of the fault goes to hartford airport. I don’t care if it has one runway and a shack , it is an international airport and should be able handle all kinds of emergencies. If they cant handle it then they should loose their international airport status and fofeit Federal funding. I also understand the airport sent most of their workers home during the crisis so they were under staffed [ probably a money saving strategy so they would not have to pay overtime ] during emergencies they should have been fully staffed and ready to handle all kinds of problems. All I heard was excuses all away around and for me ,it just doesn’t cut it

  15. Rblum says:

    Was this caused by the airline, or by the airport, or perhaps by TSA?

  16. M.M.O'Reilly Jr. says:

    I do fly JetBlue with my wife who has Parkinson’s disease she is
    fine as long as she can use the toilet as this is a neuro-muscular disease
    when yah gottah go u gotta go usually in 10 minutes ,I can’t imagine
    what our seats would have looked like on this flight with no toilets for eight
    hours? Disgusting thats what it would have looked like! Horrible to be ill
    yet ok when something as this happens, shame.

  17. pugphan says:

    This should never be allowed! After an hour they should know the extended weather conditions, and make haste to let peeps out of their coffins. It should not be tolerated. 7 hours…damn methunk we were done with that abuse. smokersodysseycom

  18. p8nt says:

    The pilot cannot just move the plane to a different gate, or disembark passengers at will, without clearance from the airport’s ground control. They should be the ones blamed for this fiasco.

    1. Rblum says:

      Absolutely, the tapes indicate that the pilot was pleading for clearance. This was an airport or TSA issue.

  19. Richie says:

    Another thing. lets boycott Jetblue. Just dont fly them for the rest of the year. That will teach them

    1. Java says:

      Yeah, you do that. Teach them a lesson. LOL…..
      You really think people are going to stop using cheap airline with low fares, in favor for 3 monsters, paying through their noses to fly.

  20. Richie says:

    This should never happen. These passengers should be compensated for this. I expect to get off the plane at the very least and be provided with some food and shelter. Airlines want to make money, big money. For Thanksgiving my family and I will be traveling by car instead from Atlanta to NYC.

    1. Davis says:

      They will be compensated. NY law protect—hmm—diverted to “Conn”.
      I smell a rat…with free peanuts and direct TV

  21. suxiao says:

    Unknown message

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