Passenger demands change from Southwest Airlines after woman passes out on hot plane - KESQ

News Channel 3 is pressing Southwest Airlines for answers, after passengers on a flight out of Palm Springs were forced to wait on the tarmac in extreme heat. 

On July 26, Indio resident Kelly Melcher was onboard Southwest flight 2176 bound for Chicago with a stop in Denver.

Melcher said the flight was originally delayed for to hours due to storm-related issues in Denver. However, passengers were eventually allowed to board the plane only for another issue to be encountered.

“The plane stopped and the air conditioning went out,” according to Kelly Melcher. She said the flight crew announced that they were having mechanical issues, but never said exactly when they would be resolved.

“We waited for a little over two hours and that’s when people started getting restless and a girl three rows down from me passed out. She was on the floor convulsing,” said Melcher.

A video shared to Facebook shows a group of passengers trying to help cool off a woman lying in the aisle of the flight.

The woman who shared the video claimed in her post that passengers were kept on the plane for too long, and that she overheated.

Southwest Airlines has not provided us with information we requested about whether the passenger suffered a heat-related illness. 

However, a spokesman for the Palm Springs Fire Department confirmed to News Channel 3 that first responders responded to a medical aid call at the airport involving a woman in the same time frame when the ordeal occurred.

Melcher said she started feeling faint and that the airline waited more than two hours to distribute water to passengers who were waiting on the tarmac.

There are rules to protect airline passengers when it comes to tarmac delays, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

  • Airlines must return planes to the gate and let passengers off anytime a flight is sitting on the tarmac for 3 hours (domestic).
  • Airlines must also provide passengers with adequate food and water within the first two hours of any tarmac delay. 
  • Adequate toilet facilities must be maintained and made available to passengers during the delay.
  • Airlines must post and maintain tarmac delay contingency plans on their websites.

Melcher told News Channel 3 she reached out to Southwest Airlines and shared details about her experience, after which she received a $300 airline voucher.

“I want the airline to maybe reconsider their rules and regulations on keeping people on that tarmac for over a period of time especially in the temperatures that were reached,” said Melcher.

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