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Old 12-21-2009, 08:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
The_Jazz's Avatar
Location: Chicago
New airline rules

-- The Transportation Department, responding to tarmac horror stories, orders airlines on Monday to let passengers stuck in stranded airplanes to deplane after three hours.

(Feb. 16, 2007)With its new regulations, the Obama administration is sending an unequivocal message to airlines that it won't tolerate the delays experienced by some passengers, such as an overnight ordeal in Rochester, Minn., last summer.

Under the new regulations, airlines operating domestic flights will be able only to keep passengers on board for three hours before they must be allowed to disembark a delayed flight. The regulation provides exceptions only for safety or security or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations.

U.S. carriers operating international flights departing from or arriving in the United States must specify, in advance, their own time limits for deplaning passengers.

Airlines will be required to provide food and water for passengers within two hours of a plane being delayed on a tarmac, and to maintain operable lavatories. They must also provide passengers with medical attention when necessary.

From January to June this year, 613 planes were delayed on tarmacs for more than three hours, their passengers kept on board.

Airlines will also be prohibited from scheduling chronically delayed flights. Carriers who fail to comply could face government enforcement action for using unfair or deceptive trade practices.

The new regulations, which were published Monday in the Federal Register, go into effect in 120 days.

"Airline passengers have rights, and these new rules will require airlines to live up to their obligation to treat their customers fairly," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

Airlines have strongly opposed a hard time limit on tarmac strandings. They say forcing planes to return to gates so that passengers can get off could cause more problems than it cures. They predict more flights will be canceled, further delaying passengers from reaching their destinations.

Last month, the department fined Continental Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines and Mesaba Airlines $175,000 for their roles in a nearly six-hour tarmac delay in Rochester, Minn. On Aug. 8, Continental Express Flight 2816 en route to Minneapolis was diverted to Rochester due to thunderstorms. Forty-seven passengers were kept overnight in a cramped plane amid crying babies and a smelly toilet because Mesaba employees refused to open a gate so that they could enter the closed airport terminal.

The case marked the first time the department had fined an airline for actions involving a tarmac delay. Transportation officials made clear the case was a warning to the industry.

Consumer advocates have been pressing the department and Congress for at least a decade to do something extended tarmac delays. However, past efforts to address the problem have fizzled in the face of industry opposition and promises to reform.

Now we all love to rail on the airline industry for the horror stories - me included. I've been close to some of these caps (stuck 150' from a gate during a lightening storm with a 3 1/2 year old and a 1 1/2 year old), but I haven't been over them.

Has deregulation failed the consumer, at least in terms of service? I don't think anyone can successfully argue that deregulation was good for prices, but have we reached the low-water mark for service? Will this reverse things?
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - B. Franklin
"There ought to be limits to freedom." - George W. Bush
"We have met the enemy and he is us." - Pogo
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:37 AM   #2 (permalink)
amonkie's Avatar
Location: Windy City
Less than 1 month ago I spent 6 hours on a tarmac in Cancun, going back and forth from plane to gate over the 6 hour period. As the airline was an a la carte airline, there were no complimentary beverages, not even water. 150 people were on this plane in 85 F heat in Mexico with no readible access to water.

In this case, I am curious how these regulations would apply. I was on a US based carrier, but at an international airport.
Calling from deep in the heart, from where the eyes can't see and the ears can't hear, from where the mountain trails end and only love can go... ~~~ Three Rivers Hare Krishna
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Old 12-22-2009, 04:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
raging moderate's Avatar
Location: Whatever house my keys can get me into
Here's my diatribe on airlines in the US. I lived in Europe for awhile, and I remember buying airline tickets for as little as 25 euro. The most I paid to fly anywhere around western europe was 100 euro. Now, it is true that they didn't have any "perks" like a free can of coke but I'd rather forgo the coke and save a couple hundred bucks.

as far as the delays go, it is incredibly stupid for them to keep people on the plane during delays. Any idiot airline worker can see when there are going to be delays due to weather or traffic, and it makes no sense at all to keep these poor saps who all shelled out a few hundred bucks to sit on this hot-ass tin can when they can easily let them hang out in the gate where they can at least get something to eat or drink, or take a shit for g'ds sake. If it takes a damn presidential decree to get the airlines to stop screwing the hell out of these poor people, then the airlines in this country are really in sad shape. I look forward to the day when Ryan Air and Easy Jet break into this market and screw all the other ones out of business by offering reasonable prices and on-time flights.

These are the good old days...

formerly Murp0434
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Old 12-25-2009, 11:04 AM   #4 (permalink)
Location: Alton, IL
I work at an airport, and I can tell you that the airlines are going to fight as hard as they can to get each case labeled as an exception. They'll be asking air traffic control to keep the planes away from the gates as long as they can. It's about profits and nothing else. They really don't care about the passengers.

I feel sorry for people who have to wait that long before the flight even begins. It's wrong, but this isn't going to change anything. The new rules don't even take effect until April in any event.
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