Senate Approves Legislation to Curb Tarmac Delays

by  Lowrie Kenigsberg | Jul 22, 2009
Plane in sky
Plane in sky / AlexeyPetrov/iStock

There’s no denying it – most of us savvy flyers have been burned by the major airlines at one point or another. For this blogger, the memories are fresh: A few weekends ago my flight from Bangor to Newark was boarded and then delayed at the tarmac for over two hours. But in the larger world of flight snafus, what I endured was trivial. In the last few years, flyer ire has progressively grown in response to stuck-on-the-tarmac delays – some of which have topped off at more than a staggering 10 hours. As a result, increased pressure rightly fell into the laps of the legislature to pass a law to protect passengers' rights. Thankfully, the legislation, which was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee yesterday, will (among other things) limit permitted boarded tarmac delays to 3 hours, except in the most extreme of circumstances (when only another 30 minutes will be allowed).

For those passengers that endured nightmarishly uncomfortable delays that plagued 578 flights in a recent 8-month government monitoring period, this news has inspired a collective sigh of relief. However, not everyone is a fan of the inflexible limit: Air transport spokesman, David Castelveter, takes a critical view, warning that if fully implemented, the legislation “would have many unintended consequences that would increase delays, increase cancellations and add more customer inconvenience, as well as cost to the airlines.” As both sides of the controversy debate, we savvy flyers are caught in the middle. Will the 3-hour limit protect our interests, or will it just make it harder for us to get where we’re going? We're leaning towards the former scenario, but only time will tell.

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