Monday, December 21, 2009

Feds Impose 3-Hour Limit On Airline Strandings

Airlines will have to pony up sizable fines if they strand passengers for more than 3 hours on tarmacs due to delays according to new rules promulgated by the federal Department of Transportation.
Under the new regulations, airlines operating domestic flights will be able only to keep passengers on board for three hours before they must be allowed to disembark a delayed flight. The regulation provides exceptions 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. Foreign carriers are not covered by the rules.

Airlines will be required to provide food and water for passengers within two hours of a plane being delayed on a tarmac, and to maintain operable lavatories. They must also provide passengers with medical attention when necessary.

From January to June this year, 613 planes were delayed on tarmacs for more than three hours, their passengers kept on board.
That's great for those flying, but why limit it to airlines?

Railroads, like commuter lines and Amtrak, are also susceptible to stranding passengers. Just this weekend, 150 passengers were stranded on a LIRR train for more than five hours during the blizzard that hit the NYC metro area. They had no food, water, or heat during that time.
The Ronkonkoma-bound train left Penn Station at 2:53 a.m. Sunday and passengers were still on their way to their final destination more than five hours later, Railroad spokeswoman Susan McGowan said. The train was first delayed by snow and ice and was then stopped by a passenger car that became stuck while crossing the tracks. Then, the train was stopped again when the weather caused the locomotive pulling the train to break down. McGowan says the train was towed to a nearby station and passengers were put on a second train and sent on their way by 8:15 a.m. No injuries were reported.
While that doesn't compare to some of the horror stories from hours of delays on tarmacs around the nation, railroads should be held to the same standards of accountability.

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