A video circulating on social media shows how frustrations boiled over when United Airlines passengers were trapped for over seven hours on a plane going from Newark to Rome.
Passengers were outraged after they were reportedly trapped on a hot plane with little food and water. Flight UA40 was scheduled to leave for Rome at 5:30 p.m. via Newark Liberty on July 3 until technical issues caused massive delays.
United Airlines later told USA TODAY in a statement that the flight returned to the gate because of “temperature issues.” At that time, passengers were given opportunity to leave the plane, but most stayed because the mechanical work was said to take 20 minutes, instead taking hours.
The airline said snacks and water were later provided following arrival at the gate. After continues delays over the course of seven hours, the flight was eventually canceled due to the crew exceeding their legally permitted work hours.
This ordeal only gained national attention as of late because of recent social media posts from passengers on the flight. None are as outspoken as the confrontation between a Newark airport employee and a critical care nurse who attended to fellow passengers, identified as Christina Ieronimo by Business Insider.
In a TikTok video posted by Bianca Dragone, Ieronimo is seen surrounded by people from flight UA40 as she lays out the “health concern[s]” experienced during the long, perilous delays.
“We had elderly people, we had babies, we had pregnant women. Not even water. You didn’t even pass around water,” Ieronimo said.
Temperatures rose to a blistering 80 degrees without a working air conditioning system in the flight craft. One young girl reportedly passed out because of the hazardous conditions.
The Department of Transportation requires airlines to provide food and water in the case of onboard tarmac delays exceeding two hours. However, Ieronimo told CBS7 that nothing was offered during the entire time, and water was passed around only after a passenger found a case of water stashed in the plane.
“You need to talk to somebody above you and they need to come here and help us and figure it out,” Ieronimo said in the TikTok video.
“I apologize. I wasn’t on the aircraft,” was the Newark airport employee response.
The viral video now has over 6,000 comments with many commending the nurse’s reaction and expressing their appall to the situation. More than 190,000 have liked the TikTok and it has been shared by around 4,600 people.
Both United Airlines and the Department of Transportation are opening investigations into the event. The DOT said in a statement to CBS7 that it “takes any violation of airlines’ tarmac delay obligations very seriously” and is looking into “the referenced incident involving United.”