NEWS

Air Transat Passengers Trapped In Hot Planes In Ottawa For Hours Call 911

The planes were diverted to Ottawa because of bad weather.

08/01/2017 11:58 EDT | Updated 08/01/2017 15:41 EDT

Air Transat is the latest airline under fire for its treatment of passengers after two flights that diverted to Ottawa were stuck on the tarmac for hours.

Passengers weren't allowed to leave the planes and some eventually called 911 for help, after conditions inside the aircraft became hot and made it hard to breathe.

Air Transat flight 157 from Brussels was diverted to the capital from Montreal because of bad weather. Passengers were forced to stay on the plane for about six hours, according to CTV News. Flight 507 from Rome was also similarly stranded and passengers were kept aboard for five hours.

On social media, the airline told stranded passengers that deboarding was up to the Ottawa airport. The official Twitter account for the Macdonald-Cartier International Airport, however, countered the claim and told one customer it was up to individual airlines to decide whether passengers get off flights or wait out delays.

After the call to 911, paramedics arrived and handed out water.

One passenger told CBC News the plane lost power and with it, its air conditioning systems.

"We've got the doors open and one kid is puking and people are just losing their minds," Laura Mah, who was on the Brussels flight, told the broadcaster. "The police are in here and the fire department's in here and they're telling us that they can't do anything, that we just have to stay put."

Twitter user @BriceBxl also posted several videos from inside the Brussels flight, including one of the moments after the plane lost power, leaving passengers in darkness. Another showed a crew member asking over the PA system for the person who called 911 to come to the front of the plane.

Postmedia reported that around 20 flights were diverted to Ottawa due to bad weather in Montreal and Toronto.

Air Transat released a statement on Tuesday addressing the situation.

"Unfortunately, this unusual situation beyond our control caused delays of several hours for our passengers," it said. "Ottawa airport staff were unable to provide with loading bridges or stairs that would have enabled the passengers on the Brussels flight to disembark or our ground crews to replenish the aircraft's empty drinking water reservoir."

In Ottawa, a spokesperson in the federal Transport Department said such incidents will not be able to happen again once Bill C-49 becomes law.

The legislation will force airlines to give passengers water, food and the possibility of getting off a plane, as long as it is safe, after being stuck three hours on a runway.

It will also oblige airlines to explain delays to passengers.

With files from The Canadian Press

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