Passengers And Flight Attendant Become Sick During Long Wait To Depart Las Vegas

The Department of Transportation is investigating July 17th’s Delta flight 555 from Las Vegas to Atlanta, a flight that has gained broad media coverage after three people feel ill while stuck on board in extreme heat.

Reportedly crew also became ill, Delta failed to provide passengers with water, and the lavatories were closed during the almost three hours that passengers were trapped on board while temperatures hit at least 114 degrees.

Delta isn’t the only one that had issues in record-setting heat. JSX, which operates from private terminals, was operating a full flight of 30 passengers out of Las Vegas to Los Angeles on Thursday where a baggage loader broke after the external air conditioning unit had been disconnected. As a result everyone sat on board without air while bag loading finished. And then the plane was stuck with a long taxi across the airport. While the Embraer ERJ-145 has air conditioning, it couldn’t keep up with the heat on the ground.

Here’s passenger provided video from inside the cabin:

Here’s video of the captain announcing a return to the FBO:

And here are passengers finally deplaning the aircraft.

JSX tells me,

XE322 from Las Vegas to Los Angeles on July 20, 2023 experienced a delay due to a malfunctioning baggage belt, followed by a lengthy takeoff queue caused by high traffic volume at Harry Reid International Airport.

Due to the high temperature on the ramp in Las Vegas and out of concern for the welfare of our Customers and Crew, the aircraft returned to the gate where this flight was canceled due to the extreme conditions.

All Customers on the flight were refunded, rebooked as requested, and offered future flight credit on JSX. Our Operations Team has been monitoring the record-breaking heat across our network, proactively re-timing flights to earlier and later in the day for the safety of our Customers and Crewmembers.

We apologize to the Customers on flight 322 and appreciate their understanding as our industry works collaboratively to address complications stemming from these unprecedented weather conditions.

A passenger on board tells me that the captain initially pushed back on returning to the FBO terminal because they expected to take off right away. He also tells me the flight had no ice on board, and that “a couple of passengers [threw[ up multiple times due to the heat.” A flight attendant became ill as well. As he put it, once everyone got of the plane, the 118 outdoor temp felt cool and refreshing” by comparison (the reported high for the day was 113, but this reading wasn’t taken on the tarmac and 118 hasn’t been verified).

JSX tells me that “the AC cart was removed at 4:04pm and the aircraft blocked in after it returned at 5:30pm.” So passengers were on the plane without sufficient a/c, first at the terminal during baggage loading and then during an extremely long taxi out, for a little over an hour before the decision was made to return to the gate.

The return to gate meant waiting for aircraft ahead of them to take off before taxiing back, a process which would have taken nearly 20 minutes.

According to the carrier, a flight attendant “was impacted by the heat and removed from the trip…and has since returned to work.”

There has been record heat across much of the country. In my home town of Austin we set a local record with 10 straight days over 105. Phoenix went 25 days over 110.

Flight operations are often inhibited by high temperatures in the Phoenix summer. But Las Vegas reached even higher peaks. Maintenance issues are harder to handle in the heat (as they are in extreme winter cold temperatures out on the ramp). And normal airport operations become unbearable.

In this case, I suspect it was a mistake to disconnect ground air before bags were completely loaded, and with a then-heated cabin the long taxi time became too much for many.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. We flew out of Vegas on Sunday and also experienced a lengthier than normal ground hold which was put down to the heat, but the AC on the plane did work, so it was fine.

    I am, however, not surprised something like this happened. Heat in Vegas was insane. We would have rescheduled our trip had we been able to.

  2. JSX is the biggest fake pos ever. No lounge, no drinks. Unqualified pilots etc etc. It’s like frontier but for private class. Those videos speak volumes, look at the trash. Hey I’m flying private. Zero private about that dumpster fire.

  3. One thing about flying…we are all at the mercy of Mother Nature. The air cycle systems on modern aircraft are designed for “normal” flying conditions with an extra margin of temperature control for safety. Like any device, when pushed to extreme conditions beyond the design limitations, these will fail. Outside air temperature and airport field elevation affect takeoff and landing performance as well as the ability for the HVAC systems to cope with the extreme temperatures. Due to the mountainous terrain around Las Vegas, it can be tricky to depart with proper safety margins, especially during the summer. Many airlines will not carry live animals in the cargo area during summer months. While the cargo compartments are pressurized, until the aircraft is airborne, the HVAC can’t keep the compartments cool enough. As an airline flight instructor, I really don’t have an answer to fix the problem with extreme temperatures currently being experienced. I’m sure that all airlines realize that safety is paramount and the pilots have every expectations of rapidly getting airborne but…

  4. As an airline flight instructor who knows nothing about JSX other than they fly used regional jets, J Smith’s comment regarding “unqualified pilots” is CRAP and I would say it to his face.

  5. This heat is unusual but not at all “unprecedented” as JSX claims. I was in Las Vegas in the summer of 1990 and it was every bit as hot as it’s been this year. Not many actual records set, aside from some “high low temperatures” which are caused by the incredible sprawl of human development that includes a lot of heat-holding pavement. This, in turn, creates a heat island that’s most pronounced at night. It’s climate change, all right – but it’s not your lawn mower, gas stove or coal-fired power plant doing it.

    JSX is just using a woke meme as an excuse for not getting things right when you have a large operation in an extreme climate and should have planned better.

  6. No Angry, it is not my stove or home power demand that is causing climate change. Or yours. It is a billion of us in the richest countries, plus 7 billion more at various stages of wealth all adding to the push who together are making the climate act like a gyrating top as it slows down and begins to wildly swing. And it is the fossil fuel companies and their political stooges who lied about this for half a century. Look around the world and see if any of this is “normal”. These conditions were all predicted decades ago, the only surprise being how fast they have come about. And there is nothing “normal” about this nor our planetary future unless we start making big changes soon. But if any do come they will be from the bottom up; don’t expect so-called “leaders” to do a thing until they are pushed into a panic.

  7. Genius planning by airport authorities to do all this airport construction during the hottest time of the year, degrading runway ops and leading to long take-off queues.

  8. These temperatures are not unprecedented. It is worth noting that many of the current record highs for months of July in Vegas date back to the 1930s and 1940s. That means even if we take every measure the climate change lobby demands we take, Vegas summers will still be pretty much the same. Vegas summers did not change much before major human development and after.

    I think it is worth noting that in this country, many places still have less than 100 years of temperature data. Many more are less than 150 years. I dont think there are any reliable data before the year 1870. Before 1870, it is all guess work based on tree condition, reported droughts, etc. In the general time of things, we dont have much data. It is worth noting that when we talking about average high temperatures that we are using a data from a tiny period of time. Vegas as an example has been around for a very long time but we only have temperature data for Vegas for a little over 90 years. We have no clue what the summer temperatures were in Vegas in 1923 as they were not recorded.

  9. Possible solution during extreme heat. Have all but 3 planes wait away from the taxi lanes (even at gate if not needed right away) and not proceed there until 10 minutes before their take off time. If heat major issues occur, they can return to a gate to disembark passengers.

  10. Going to add something. It might not have helped in this case, but there’s a small thing we can all do.

    Before deplaning at very hot airports, close your window shades. If everyone does this, it lowers the cabin temperature, helps keep the plane cool and apparently it saves quite a bit of energy. When you board, keep them closed until the plane starts to taxi, and if the plane is on an extended hold, consider closing them again. You do want them open before you actually take off as open shades make evacuation safer.

    It wouldn’t have helped in this case with actual A/C failure, but…

  11. Soooo was the APU MEL’d or what? I flew an ERJ for 5 years, the only time I ever had a problem was when it was hot with high humidity (which is not LAS) when the AC packs would occasionally freeze up and would cut out for a few minutes. I was based in DXB for 5 yrs as well, 125 in the summer and no problem whatsoever.

  12. Dan77W E-145s are infamous for MEL’s APUs. I flew the E-jet for a year for a regional and it was 50/50. Summers SUCKED!

  13. Sorry Greg Wong on this one. over the hill retirees is not qualified. It’s like hiring Aaron Rodgers now. Hey I just hired the NFL MVP. yeah sure, a decade ago. I too like having people a heartbeat away from death flying me. They are unqualified.

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