CLEARWATER, Fla. (Heartland Newsfeed) — Reports about a June 22 incident involving an air conditioning unit malfunction on an Allegiant Air flight surfaced Friday, following two weeks since the incident took place, where several people were treated after showing signs of overheating and dehydration. The plane leaving from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport enroute to Indiana had to return to Clearwater following passenger complaints about the uncomfortable air cabin temperature, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times.
“I don’t sweat and I was dripping,” said Karen Willey, one of the passengers on the flight.
A public relations representative for the airport, Michele Routh, told the New York Daily News that four passengers were examined with heat-related issues. A spokeswoman for Allegiant, Hilarie Grey, denies any claims of any passengers ever fainting, although cited that the pilot had to call first responders after learning one of the flight attendants was feeling faint. Grey also added the cause of the incident was a cooling valve malfunction.
Emily France and her four-month-old son Owen were aboard the plane and suffered on the nicknamed “oven with wings” for over an hour until the plane returned to the gate and passengers were briefly dismissed from the plane so repairs could be made.
“I heard a cry from my son that I have never heard before. His skin looked a color that I had never seen before, and I knew he was in trouble,” she said. “Then he just stopped crying. And he went limp in my arms. I said, ‘Get an ambulance and get me off the plane,'” France also added for an NBC News report.
Upon arrival at the gate, passengers complaining of sickness due to the heat inside the cabin were given medical assistance.
Currently, there is no rule set by the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the temperature inside a cabin and it can be adjusted per customer preference.
Regarding an interview about a lack of temperature regulations for airlines, union spokeswoman Taylor Garland said, “Bottom line, the airlines and regulators do not consider temperature to be a safety issue. Therefore, it’s low on the list of priorities when it comes to on-time departure.”
The FAA did not immediately comment on the latest incident to the Daily News, but said it expected the airlines to “take appropriate action if a cabin temperature condition occurs on the ground that could potentially affect passenger safety.”
There has been considerable debate regarding regulations to maintain a maximum cabin temperature threshold. The roughly 50,000-member Association of Flight Attendants has been petitioning Congress for quite some time trying to set the maximum to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.