Earlier this week, the Department of Transportation passed a new rule prohibiting U.S. airlines from stalling a plane on the tarmac for more than three hours without letting passengers out. If passengers are on the tarmac for more than two hours, carriers have to provide food and water, too.
We’ve been trapped in planes stuck on the runway for as long as five hours at a time. In our experience, passengers grow restless, moody, hungry and sometimes even sick or anxious.
Suffice it to say, we’re pleased with our Christmas gift from the DOT!
If airlines don’t comply with these rules, they’ll be severely fined. For example, the Department imposed fines on Continental Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines, and Mesaba Airlines for a six-hour ground delay in Minnesota. The amount? $175,000.
There are other consumer airline protections under consideration, too. Possible other rules include the requirement that airlines report tarmac delay data, disclose baggage fees, and disclose the full cost of airfare in advertisements.
This almost prevents us from dreading our holiday travel.