50 People Forced to Spend Night in Airplane

Forty-seven passengers and three crewmembers had to spend this past Friday night onboard an ExpressJet Airlines plane on the tarmac at Minnesota's Rochester International Airport.
The Houston to the Twin Cities flight had to land in Rochester due to inclement weather. Then once on the ground the flight crew had to be replaced. While awaiting the new crew, the passengers were not allowed off the plane because all the TSA security screeners had gone home for the night, and there was not enough airport staff to deal with this many people sleeping in the terminal.

Without TSA screeners on hand the passengers legally could not reboard the aircraft once leaving. The ordeal lasted about 10 hours.

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By Planet Data


  1. Good afternoon! Blogger Bob here from the TSA Blog. I posted this yesterday:

    Due to thunderstorms, a flight bound for Minneapolis on Friday, August 7, was diverted to Rochester, Minnesota. Passengers were stuck inside the plane for several hours after ExpressJet made the decision not to deplane.

    Earlier today, there were media reports that led some to believe TSA regulations prevented the passengers from deplaning.

    TSA does not make decisions on whether or not passengers can deplane. We do however have the ability to recall our officers and open a checkpoint at the request of an airline or airport. No requests were made by ExpressJet on Friday or Saturday. The checkpoint resumed normal operations at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday.

    Also, passengers did not need to be screened or rescreened to deplane and re-board as long as they didn’t exit past the checkpoint and leave the non-screened sterile area of the airport.

    Please note the airline has since publically apologized to the passengers.

    Blogger Bob
    TSA Blog Team


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