New Federal Transportation Rule Limits Airline Tarmac Delays
Ever been on an airplane that was sitting idle on the runway, waiting for the green light for take off? Was it ever longer than three hours? Wish someone was held accountable for your misery?
Well, in a move to address airline consumers' complaints, the Obama administration said Monday it would begin routinely penalizing U.S. air carriers for lengthy tarmac delays, this after a series of high-profile incidents.
The new rules released by the Transportation Department would prohibit airlines from leaving passengers stranded on a runway for more than three hours. Additionally, it would require that passengers be provided snacks and water during those delays and bringing a hefty price tag of $27,500 per passenger for violations. Currently the Transportation Department issues fines for tarmac delays on case-by-case basis.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in an interview with the media that the administration wants to send the message that it is toughening up on consumer abuses after a series of high-profile delays in recent years.
"We think it's the strongest message we can send, particularly at this time of the year, for passengers," Mr. LaHood said during a news conference Monday morning, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. "Passengers have rights and they shouldn't get stuck on airplanes in a way that just doesn't reflect the kind of service they're paying for."
Exceptions to the three-hour rule would be allowed only for safety and security reasons or if air traffic controllers advise a pilot that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations, the department said.
Transportation Department officials said that in recent years, an average of 1,500 domestic flights annually have experienced delays of more than three hours, affecting some 114,000 passengers annually.
The rule goes into effect 120 days after date of publication in the Federal Register, CNN reported.