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22 December 2009

US Government Proposes Compensation and Other Requirements for Passengers Delayed Three Hours or More

Yesterday, the US Transportation Department announced new limits on how long airline passengers will be forced to wait in planes stuck on the airport tarmac. The key changes, which are scheduled to go into effect about four months after the rule is published in the Federal Register, include the following:
  • Planes must return to the terminal if the delay exceeds three hours.

  • Requires airlines to display on their web site the flight delay information for each domestic flight they operate.

  • Requires air carriers to adopt contingency plans for lengthy tarmac delays and to publish those plans on their web sites.

  • 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.
There are some exceptions for security reasons and if air traffic control orders the crew to not return to the terminal. More details are available in the

History of These Rule Changes
These rule changes didn't happen because of the recent snowstorm in the northeast US last week, but because of numerous severe delay incidents over the last several years, including an August 2009 event where Continental Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines and Mesaba Airlines were fined a total of $175,000 for stranding passengers on an aircraft for nearly six hours.

Related Articles
Delays of Three Hours or Longer from January to August 2009
Databases That Track Long Tarmac Delays.

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