United Flight 270 Passengers Stranded On Tarmac Nearly Nine Hours <


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United Flight 270 Passengers Stranded On Tarmac Nearly Nine Hours

By Bill Goldston

March 29, 2010 - On Tuesday night, a United Airlines Flight 270 fully loaded with passengers bound for Denver, pushed back from the gate and instead of taking off the jet sat for over 8 hours on the tarmac.

Harry Lovecraft, a passenger who was on board stated there was no food, little water, the air conditioning was off so the plane was extremely hot and stuffy even though the snow had been falling.

At 4 a.m. they were dumped into an overcrowded terminal with 1000 passengers and no staff to help them. No assistance was offered the passengers.

If the new DOT rule were in place now, this might have been averted. The Senate just passed the bill under Airline Passenger Bill of Rights the “Tarmac Rule” as written by Senators Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe but its still has not been in conference and on the president's desk for signature!  When signed, the rule will go into effect April 29, 2010.

“Airline passengers have rights, and these new rules will require airlines to live up to their obligation to treat their customers fairly,” said. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who announced a new rule that significantly strengthens protections afforded to consumers by, among other things, establishing a hard time limit after which U.S. airlines must allow passengers to deplane from domestic flights. 

The new rule will 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. 

Isn't it time that the House and Senate resolve their differences in the FAA Bill which contains permanent protections for airline passengers' health, well being and safety; and turn this bill into a law that passengers can count on to protect them from this random abuse? 

Carriers will be 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.

(see Continental Chief Executive Calls Consumer Tarmac Rule Stupid)
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