Fliers trapped overnight on tarmac want more from airline

"I'm not in any hurry to jump on a Continental flight, especially this year," Tillmans says.

"It will take awhile to get over the aggravation my family went through."

'Hopefully, everybody has learned'

Continental spokeswoman Julie King declined to comment on complaints about the airline's compensation.

King says Continental has "processes in place to elevate decision-making" on customer care during long tarmac delays, "but those processes, unfortunately, failed in this case."

Customer-service guru John Tschohl says the compensation offered was " a slap in the face — too little and too late." Tschohl is president of the Service Quality Institute, a consulting company that provides customer-service training for companies.

Tschohl says Continental and ExpressJet should have immediately admitted they made a mistake not letting passengers off the plane during the long tarmac delay, refunded the ticket price and offered each passenger a $1,000 flight credit with no expiration date.

Tillmans says she "felt like a hostage," and the smell on the small plane from the overloaded toilet "was disgusting."

She says she and her husband, Jim, were very uncomfortable with their 22-month-old daughter, Anna, alternately crying and sleeping across their laps.

Christin, the first passenger to complain publicly about the delay, says he was sitting in the rear of the jet and wasn't aware of any passenger requesting to get off the plane in Rochester.

Scott Johnson and Tillmans, however, say some passengers asked to get off and were denied.

"People kept asking politely to get off," says Johnson of Brooklyn Center, Minn.

Johnson says it was his first flight on Houston-based ExpressJet, and he "will definitely avoid" flying on the airline in the future.

ExpressJet spokeswoman Kristy Nicholas says the airline's service was "unacceptable," and it apologizes.

"We're trying to make sure this never happens again," Nicholas says.

"Hopefully, everybody has learned some valuable lessons."

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