Entries in Passengers (14)


Miami Bus Crash Kills 2 After Hitting Overpass

Comstock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- A bus slammed into an overpass at Miami International Airport on Saturday, killing two people and critically injuring three passengers, authorities said.

The 27 other passengers on board the tour bus also sustainted injuries when it hit the overpass at 20 mph while traveling through the airport's arrivals section, an area off-limits to larger vehicles, Miami International Airport spokesman Greg Chin said.

"This driver got disoriented or I don't know what, but he wound up on the lower drive and he was going fairly fast, so he made contact with the roof of the lower drive," Chin said, adding that the overpass had been "clearly marked" with a warning that it was 8 feet, 6 inches high.

Buses are directed to go through the departures level, which allows for higher clearance vehicles, Chin said.

Lt. Rosanna Cordero-Stutz, of the Miami-Dade Police Department, told ABC News' Miami affiliate that police are interviewing the bus driver, who said he was unfamiliar with the area and did not mean to end up at the airport.

It was not yet known where the private bus, which is used for tours, had been heading.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the bus involved in the accident was a double decker bus.


Passengers Stranded by Sandy Will Have Option to Leave Cruise Ship

Norwegian Cruise Line(NEW YORK) -- A cruise ship stranded by Hurricane Sandy will call on Boston Wednesday, giving passengers the option to disembark as the ship loads up on fuel and provisions before heading back to sea.

Norwegian Cruise Line's ship -- the Gem -- was due to arrive in New York City Monday, but couldn't because the Port of New York was closed.  The ship was returning from a nine-day trip to the Eastern Caribbean, sailing round-trip from New York City.

The port remains closed, but the ship is able to go to Boston on Wednesday, according to a statement posted on the company's Facebook page Tuesday night.

"Norwegian Gem will call in Boston tomorrow, Wednesday, October 31, at 9:30 a.m. to take on provisions and fuel. Guests will have the opportunity to go ashore in Boston," it said.  "The ship will depart Boston at 3 p.m. and sail toward New York and remain at sea until the Port of New York reopens. Norwegian Gem's captain will continue to keep guests informed."

"Guests who wish to disembark in Boston may do so.  For those guests who purchased air through Norwegian, we will assist with re-booking their air travel subject to availability as Logan International Airport is open.  We are also offering complimentary phone and Internet services for guests," the statement continued.

But because the cruise was scheduled to end in New York, the vast majority of passengers likely either live in the New York City area or are ticketed to fly home from New York City.  While the airlines have issued flexible travel policies, most stipulate the departure and origination cities must remain the same.  Passengers who choose to leave the ship in Boston might be out additional money for a hotel room as they wait for a flight, or will have to figure out how to get back to New York City and then again find a place to stay while waiting for a flight.

For some, it might make sense to simply stay onboard the Gem until the Port of New York reopens.  It's unclear when that will be.

Cruise line spokeswoman Vanessa Lane on Monday told ABC News that all passengers on the ship "are comfortable."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Passenger Charged with Groping Sleeping Woman on 11-Hour Flight

TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images(HONOLULU) -- A passenger onboard a flight from the Philippines to Hawaii faces federal charges after he allegedly groped a woman several times as she slept on the nearly 11-hour flight.

The alleged victim, identified only as M.W. in court documents, had taken a spoonful of NyQuil to help her sleep but woke up several times throughout Hawaiian Airlines flight 456 on Aug. 16.

She initially thought her seatmate, Luavalu Seuva'ai, 22, a resident of American Samoa, was "touching her by accident," grazing her legs and arms as he tried to get comfortable in his seat, court documents state.

Trying to ignore the frequent movements of her seatmate, the woman went back to sleep. A short time later, she woke up to realize her hand had been placed on "the private region of Seuva'ai's pants," according to the criminal complaint.

"M.W. was still drowsy, but from the placement of her hand, she recalled that Seuva'ai seemed to have an erection," FBI Special Agent Timothy Judah Pent wrote in the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for Hawaii.

The woman pulled her hand away but said nothing to Seuva'ai and went back to sleep.

After several other "touching" instances and a verbal command for him to stop, the woman again awoke to find Seuva'ai's hand "fondling her breast underneath her bra."

"[She] pushed Seuva'ai's hand away and told him to leave," Pent wrote in the complaint.

The woman alerted a flight attendant, who moved Seuva'ai to another seat for the duration of the flight.

When the flight landed in Honolulu, Seuva'ai was taken into federal custody.

When questioned, Seuva'ai told authorities that the woman had made the first move by placing her hand on his leg, and he "was merely flirting with her." At first Seuva'ai denied that he'd touched the woman sexually, but he later changed his statement and wrote and signed a confession stating he'd touched the woman's side and breast without her consent, according to the criminal complaint. could not reach Sean Coutain, the public defender who represented Seuvai'ai until Aug. 21, but Coutain told Hawaii News Now this is a "classic case of 'he said, she said.'"

"It's really early at this point to be jumping to any kinds of conclusions," he said. ABC News' attempts to reach Seuva'ai's new attorney at the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Hawaii were not successful.

Seuva'ai appeared in court on Monday where he entered a not-guilty plea.

He has since been released on a $25,000 signature bond into the custody of his sister.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Several Injured After Turbulence Hits American Airlines Flight

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Several people aboard an American Airlines flight from Aruba to Miami were treated for injuries Tuesday evening after the plane was hit with turbulence prior to landing.

In a statement, the carrier said Flight 1780 "encountered moderate turbulence" for about 15 seconds roughly 30 minutes before it was scheduled to land in Miami.  

Upon landing safely at 6:06 p.m., two flight attendants and three passengers were transported to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.  A handful of other passengers were treated at the gate at Miami International Airport.  None of the injuries were said to be critical.

American Airlines said the seatbelt sign was lit when the plane started shaking, and "nothing on the radar indicated that turbulence was in the area."

The Boeing 757 had 185 passengers and six crew members on board.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Passengers Sue JetBlue for Pilot Meltdown Incident

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Passengers aboard the March JetBlue flight on which a pilot had to be locked out of the cockpit and restrained after a rant about al Qaeda and 9/11 have filed the first lawsuit related to the incident.

The lawyer representing some of the passengers aboard JetBlue Flight 191 says the airline must answer why a pilot with known mental-health issues was allowed to fly a commercial plane.

"We know an insane pilot was flying the plane," attorney Steven Epstein said.  "Now we want to know why."

Capt. Clayton Osbon, 49, was suspended from his duties and charged with interfering with flight crew instructions after the March 27 incident on the flight from New York to Las Vegas, during which he ranted at passengers after he was locked out of the cockpit by his co-pilot and had to be restrained until the plane could make an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas.

Osbon will be in court Friday morning to see whether he is competent to stand trial.  He could face up to 20 years in prison, according to the Department of Justice.

Ten passengers from the flight filed the first of what is expected to be many lawsuits demanding unspecified damages from Osbon and JetBlue.

"People pay attention when money's involved," Flight 191 passenger Marshall Brooks said.  "This is going to get JetBlue's attention, force them to do something about it, and not sweep it under the rug."

Both Brooks and fellow passenger Kathy Euler thought their lives were in serious danger aboard Flight 191, which was carrying 135 passengers and six crew members.  Euler said she now has trouble trusting airline pilots when she places her life in their hands.

"I am petrified," Euler said.  "You normally walk right past the pilot, go to your seat.  I will stop and look at every pilot. ... When the pilot has to be subdued by passengers, the first thought in your mind is, 'Is this plane going to crash.'"

Brooks, Euler and the rest of the passengers say the JetBlue response to the episode -- offering them credit for the disrupted flight and nothing more -- has been insulting.

The airline said there would be "no comment on pending litigation."  Osbon's attorney did not respond to request for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


TSA to Expand Expedited Passenger Screening Program

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator John Pistole and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday morning the expansion of the airline passenger pre-screening program that allows passengers who are enrolled to have expedited screenings.

Those associated with "Pre-Check" face fewer hassles; they no longer have to remove their shoes or belts, they can wear light jackets, and they can keep their computers in their bags and their three-ounce liquids and gels in their carry-ons.
“By the end of March, Pre-Check will be operating here at Reagan National, and also we are expanding it to New York's JFK Airport, Salt Lake City International and Chicago O'Hare.  By the end of calendar year 2012, we will have Pre-Check up and running at 28 of the nation's busiest airports. Expanding TSA Pre-Check is about more than just speeding up travel. It's part of a fundamental shift in how we approach aviation security,” said Napolitano at a news conference at Reagan National Airport Wednesday morning.


“Immediately after the attacks of 9/11, we simply did not have the information and analytic capability to identify travelers who posed the greatest potential risk and so we had to take a one-size-fits-all approach,” she said.  “Our experience over the past several years has made us smarter about the evolving threats we face and how best to deal with them.”
Pistole said that random screening checks would still be employed by TSA officers despite an individual's enrollment in Pre-Check, but he described how the program would normally work.

“The key is that we have done pre-screening before somebody ever gets to the checkpoint.  So when the person arrives, they will have in their -- on their boarding pass, embedded in the bar code, the fact that they are part of the TSA Pre-Check program.  And so there will be a dedicated lane for those individuals. Thus far in the seven airports where it's currently operating, we've had over 310,000 flyers go through this program.” Pistole said.
The program is currently being used with frequent flyers with American Airlines at airports in Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, and with Delta at airports in Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, and Minneapolis.  US Airways, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines will begin to have their frequent flyers enroll in the program later this year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Passenger Stands On Seven Hour Flight

USAir[dot]com(PHILADELPHIA) -- Arthur Berkowitz was buckled into his aisle seat and ready for take-off on a flight from Anchorage to Philadelphia when a morbidly obese man boarded the airplane at the last minute and headed toward the vacant middle seat which separated Berkowitz and a young exchange student on the otherwise full flight.

"He was very apologetic," Berkowitz, 57, told ABC News. "When he boarded, he said: 'I'm your worst nightmare.'"

Those words turned out to be prophetic for Berkowitz, who said he was forced to stand for most of the seven hour flight, which he took on July 29.

"During takeoff and landing, I was wedged into my seat and unable to belt it," he said. "The man next to me was resting on top of the seat belt."

Other than takeoff and landing, he said he spent the seven hour flight standing in the aisle and galley area.

Berkowitz said he is speaking out about his ordeal now because he believes US Airways did not properly address his concerns.

"My issue first and foremost is that this was a safety issue," Berkowitz said. "The airlines and regulatory bodies need to have protocol when it comes to this."

He said he brought the problem of his large seatmate to the flight attendants' attention and asked if he could sit in one of their jump seats.

They apologized and said there was nothing they could do and that sitting in their seats was against FAA regulations.

"We have attempted to address this customer's service concerns, but offering increasing amounts of compensation based on a threat of a safety violation isn't really fair -- especially when the passenger himself said he didn't follow the crew members' instructions and fasten his seat belt," John McDonald, a US airways spokesperson, told ABC News.

"We realize it is inconvenient, but it is our obligation to be safe," McDonald said.

Berkowitz said he brought complaint to the attention of the Department of Transportation and the FAA.

"They've done next to nothing other than to acknowledge they received [my letters]," he said.

US Airways, for their part, said they have discussed Berkowitz's complaints with the crew members who were on the flight.

Berkowitz, a frequent flyer, isn't satisfied.

"They say they want to give passengers comfort and convenience," he said. "Well, this is as inconvenient and uncomfortable as you can get."

Consumer advocate Christopher Elliott, who tried to help Berkowitz mediate his complaint, said travelers need to communicate, especially during the busy holiday travel season.

If the direct communication doesn't work, Elliott said passengers should talk to a flight attendant. Above that, they can appeal to the lead purser.

"The final level of appeal on the flight would be to talk to the pilot," Elliott said. "Pilots have the final say."

Beyond that, he recommends passengers immediately put their complaints in writing and submit them to the airline when they land.

"Airlines say they're giving us what we want -- low fares," Elliott said. "But we haven't also asked to be tortured. This is a form of torture."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: More Than 25,000 Airport Security Breaches Since 2001

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Despite an increase in aviation security measures across the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks, more than 25,000 security breaches have taken place throughout the country's airports since late 2001, according to a new Congressional report.

That boils down to about one breach for every 170,000 passengers, or roughly seven breaches a day -- and this despite "enhanced pat downs" and other screening proceedures that many, including some lawmakers, say are becoming increasingly invasive to innocent travelers.

The Transportation Security Administration, however, says those figures are misleading.  In a statement to ABC News, the agency said the breaches represent "a tiny fraction of one percent" of the more than 5.5 billion travelers who have been screened at the nation's 450 airports since Sept. 11.

Yet, others find the report concerning.

"Certainly it's a small percentage given the large number of people screened.  On the other hand, we know from hard experience -- 9/11 -- that only one security breach can be catastrophically fatal," said Clark Kent Ervin, director of the Homeland Security Program at the Aspen Institute.

"I think the key question is: 'Are we as safe as we can be?  Are we as safe as we need to be?  Are we as safe as we think we are all these many years after 9/11?'  And I think unfortunately the answer to those questions is 'no,'" he said.

The findings will be presented at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Airways Allows Man in Underwear to Fly

US Air(SAN FRANCISCO) -- At a time when airport behavior is closely scrutinized for anything unusual, passengers on a recent US Airways flight were surprised to find a fellow traveler dressed only in a blue bra and underwear, a sheer white sweater, black platform heels and stockings. The passenger was a man.

Jill Tarlow, an Arizona woman who was on board the June 9 flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Phoenix sent a photo of the unidentified passenger to the San Francisco Chronicle. She said that despite other passengers' complaints regarding the man's attire, he was allowed to board.

US Airways declined comment to ABC News, but spokeswoman Valerie Wunder told the Chronicle that employees acted correctly by not removing the man from the flight.

The incident came just days before 20-year-old University of New Mexico football player Deshon Marman made headlines when he was booted off a US Airways flight after airline personnel approached him about his pants sagging too low. Marman was arrested on June 15 after being told to get off the plane. He claims that his pajama bottoms were loose, but that just the top of his underwear were in public view.

Veteran flight attendant Mark Gentile, currently a US Airways union rep for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA MEC, said that this case of the lingerie-wearing man is "certainly one of the most bizarre."

"I could see how someone could take offense to it because you're sitting inches away from someone on an aircraft and people respect their privacy and don't want to have that invaded," he said.

Gentile, who has been a flight attendant for 34 years, said that passengers behaving in bizarre ways is not uncommon.

"I'm surprised there aren't books written on the situations that occur...I don't think you could dream up this particular one," he said, recalling a time in his career when he witnessed a man try to use a closet as a bathroom on a redeye flight. "There's always something new that comes up."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bus Company Shut Down for Carrying Humans in Cargo Hold

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A bus company has been busted for transporting passengers in the cargo compartment of one of its motorcoaches.

Michigan-based Haines Tours was ordered by the Department of Transportation to stop operations due to the May 27 incident in which six people were found inside the cargo area along with unsecured luggage and bags.

The discovery of human cargo was made by the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Lake Township, Ohio during an inspection after the bus was stopped as it was traveling from Michigan to Ohio.

In announcing the shutdown of Haines Tours, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, "People's lives were needlessly placed at risk.  Safety is everyone's responsibility and it begins with practicing common sense.  That means not putting human beings in cargo holds."

This isn't the first time the company run by Roger Haines has gotten into trouble.  In 2010, Haines Tours was cited for utilizing a luggage compartment as an unauthorized sleeper berth for drivers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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