Bomb Cyclone Delay Raises Issue of Clients' Rights When Service Goes Awry

by Richard D'Ambrosio
Bomb Cyclone Delay Raises Issue of Clients' Rights When Service Goes Awry

Photo: dennizn/

They are now synonymous with airline passenger service debacles – viral video recordings of airline and airport staff mistreating customers when issues arise at airports and onboard aircraft.

One airline’s staff challenged passenger rights to document these incidents during the recent winter storm in the northeast, even threatening to call security.

After sitting on the tarmac for about two hours at Boston Logan International Airport, passengers on a Toronto-bound Porter Airlines flight learned inside the terminal that their flight would be canceled, due to the flight crew surpassing its number of work hours.

Passengers lined up with the carrier’s gate agent to address their rebooking, and as often happens in these situations, the discussion became heated. When passengers began to video record the confrontation, Porter staff began “threatening “the passengers to stop, and to delete any video they had recorded, according to one passenger who was interviewed later by a Canadian television news program.

The passenger said one staff member instructed them that failure to delete any video recording could result in arrest, and many passengers complied.

Most airports, including the Massachusetts Port Authority (MPA) which operates Logan Airport, allow individuals to video record inside terminals in areas that are not considered “secure” (e.g. security screening areas) or document procedures that might undermine security.

A Porter Airlines spokesperson told Newsweek the airline apologized for any miscommunication about airport video policies. "We do not have any policy that would prevent people from taking video at airports," he said, adding that: "Circumstances may differ on an aircraft if taking video has the potential to affect safety or the personal comfort of others on board."

The spokesman said the employee misunderstood the airport’s policy and misspoke, but that the employee made “no direct statement that passengers would be arrested."

Passengers on the flight were stranded in Boston for three days, finally returning home Monday as airlines and airports slowly recovered from the snow and deep freeze that hampered tens of thousands of flights, and likely hundreds of thousands of passengers.

Porter blamed the delay on the weather, freezing a baggage compartment door that could not be closed, resulting in the crew reaching their daily service limits.

Porter assisted passengers in finding hotel accommodations,and were "provided with hotel stays paid for by Porter," a spokesman told Travel Market Report. "This was communicated to them by airport team members at the time. Other compensation is also being individually addressed by our customer relations team."

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