The U.S. Department of Transportation said Thursday it was investigating why passengers on a Delta Air Lines flight had been forced to swelter for hours in triple-digit temperatures as the plane waited on the tarmac of a Las Vegas airport on Monday.
The flight, DL555, to Atlanta was scheduled to depart Monday from Harry Reid International Airport, but was instead on the tarmac, where passengers became ill from the extreme heat, causing some of them to pass out, according to reports by those on board.
The ordeal lasted nearly three hours, with paramedics boarding the plane to drive off three people who had fallen ill, Krista Garvin, a passenger and a producer for Fox News, wrote on Twitter.
“They told you to press your call button if you needed medical attention,” she said. “Babies scream crying. They hand out sandwiches to diabetics.”
She later added, “I’m just shocked.”
In a clip posted by Ms. Garvin, the captain appears to make an announcement apologizing to those on board for the extreme heat. In the end, the passengers got off because “too many people were sick and they wanted to try to cool down the plane,” said Ms Garvin, pointing out that the passengers were then told the crew had fallen ill.
Another passenger said on Instagram that she had run out of food and diapers for her baby, but that he had remained calm despite the heat. Others reported that Delta had not provided them with water and that the bathrooms were closed.
Delta Air Lines did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday night, but told ABC News it was investigating the incident.
“We apologize for the experience our customers had on flight 555 from Las Vegas to Atlanta on July 17, which ultimately resulted in a flight cancellation,” the company said in a statement. “Delta teams are investigating the conditions that led to uncomfortable cabin temperatures, and we appreciate the efforts of our people and first responders at Harry Reid International.”
Temperatures in Las Vegas hit 114 degrees on Monday as much of the country baked into a heat wave that has broken temperature records in a number of cities, leaving millions under excessive heat warnings.
According to the Transportation Department, airlines are required to provide comfortable cabin temperatures during tarmac delays.
“I want to know how it was possible for passengers to be left aboard a plane in triple-digit heat for so long,” Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, told Reuters on Thursday, noting that the episode had run for several hours.
“Even at normal temperatures, an asphalt delay is not supposed to last that long, and we have rules for that, which we are now actively enforcing,” he said.
Mark Walker reporting contributed.