The air conditioning malfunction in an Allegiant Air plane on June 22 caused many passengers to faint. The Indiana bound plane was forced to return to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport in Florida after the passengers complained about the uncomfortable temperature inside the cabin, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The reports about the incident surfaced Friday more than two weeks after the incident took place. Two people received treatment after they showed signs of overheating of the body.
“I don’t sweat and I was dripping,” one of the passengers, named Karen Willey, told the local newspaper.
Michele Routh, Public Relations Director, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, told New York Daily News a total of four passengers were examined with heat-related issues. While reports claimed some passengers passed out on the flight, Allegiant spokeswoman Hilarie Grey denied saying no one actually fainted. She said the pilot called first responders after he learnt one of the flight attendants started to feel faint.
Grey added the malfunctioning of a cooling valve was believed to be the cause of the incident.
Emily France, who was traveling with her four-month-old son, Owen, said she sweltered aboard the "oven with wings" for more than an hour before it returned to the gate and passengers were allowed off briefly.
"I heard a cry from my son that I have never heard before, and 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 recalled, according to NBC News.
After arriving at the gate, passengers were given medical assistance as many complained of sickness due to the heat inside the cabin.
There is no rule by the Federal Aviation Administration over the temperature inside a cabin, and it can be adjusted as per the customers’ preference.
“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,” union spokeswoman Taylor Garland, said in an interview on the airlines' lack of temperature regulations.
According to the Daily News, the FAA did not comment on the latest incident, 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 a debate over a regulation to maintain a maximum cabin temperature, and the Association of Flight Attendants — a group of at least 50,000 members — has long been petitioning Congress to set it to a maximum of 80 degrees.