Continental Chief Executive Calls Consumer Tarmac Rule Stupid <


Bookmark and Share


Continental Chief Executive Calls Consumer Tarmac Rule Stupid

By Mike Mitchell

March 12, 2010 - Continental Airlines Chief Executive Jeff Smisek called DOTís new consumer protection Tarmac Rule "stupid.Ē Consumer advocate groups called on tougher regulations, as a result of Continentals involvement with passengers forced to sit out on the tarmac overnight. 

On August 8, 2009, a Continental Airlines Flight 2816 sat on the tarmac at Rochester International Airport overnight with 47 passengers. The flight was operated by ExpressJet Airlines. Passengers were not allowed to return back to the gate, instead the small airplane just sat. Complete with crying babies and the aroma of over used toilets. 

DOTís Aviation Enforcement Office sets precedent back on November 24, 2009, by issuing the first ever enforcement orders against an airline for stranding passengers for an unreasonable amount of time.

The Aviation Enforcement Office (AEO) fined Continental Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines $100,000 for their roles in keeping passengers on board Continental Express flight 2816 overnight. Continental Airlines was required to provide a full refund to each passenger and also offer passengers additional compensation to materially acknowledge their discomfort. DOT also fined Mesaba Airlines $75,000. Mesaba provided ground handling for the flight. 

One passenger stated "This was a sardine can, with a single row of seats on one side of the plane and two rows of seats on the other. And they've got about 50 people inside, including babies, for the whole night. It was a nightmare.'' 

DOT reported that in 2007 and 2008 there was an average of 1,500 flights a year, with 114,000 passengers, held on the tarmac for more than three hours. As result of a national outcry from passengers demanding something be done, to prevent the events that occurred on Centennial Flight 2816 from ever taking place again, DOT came up with a new Tarmac Rule that will go into effect in April 29, 2010. 

The new Tarmac Rule prohibits U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without deplaning passengers, with exceptions allowed 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, with the same exceptions applicable.


Carriers are required to provide adequate food and potable drinking water for passengers within two hours of the aircraft being delayed on the tarmac and to maintain operable lavatories and, if necessary, provide medical attention. Under the new rule airlines will have to pay $27,500 for each passenger stuck for more than three hours on the tarmac. Consumer advocate groups who have worked hard to push for more passenger protections welcomed this new bill. 

A number of airlines have indicated that they will cannel flights if they think there will be any delays, such as bad weather conditions. Time will tell whether airlines are just are just posturing or hoping for DOT to loosen up on this consumer legislation. It is highly unlikely that airlines will give up revenue. More likely passengers will spend their time waiting inside the terminal for the weather to clear up. JetBlue and Delta Airlines have asked for an exemption under the news rules. They say their concerns are the construction and closure of the main runway at New York's JFK could bring millions in fines.

 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News                                          Bookmark and Share


AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator