Says Plans To Address Long-Term Strandings Inadequate
Airline travelers outraged over
spending long periods stranded on planes have an ally in the US
Department of Transportation's Inspector General.
Calvin L. Scovell III studied on-board delays over the past
year. In addition to the highly publicized cases involving American
flights stranded in Texas last December, and Jetblue planes trapped
by ice storms in New York in February, he found four other
incidents in 2007 that stranded passengers on waiting planes for
nine hours... four hours... six hours... and 10 hours.
He said the number of times passengers were confined to
airplanes on the ground for more than five hours rose from 27 in
the first seven months of 2006 to 44 in the comparable period this
year, according to The Associated Press.
Scovell blamed the problem on poor planning by the airlines, and
the airports... and said their planning was still deficient.
"Both airline and airport contingency plans are limited in
addressing long, on-board delays," Scovell said. "In fact, we found
there has been little improvement from what we reported in 2001 --
that only a few airlines' contingency plans specified in any detail
the efforts planned to get passengers off the aircraft when delayed
for extended periods."
"We are studying the inspector general's recommendations and
look forward to meeting with the transportation secretary and the
IG to discuss them further," said David Castelveter, spokesman for
the Air Transport Association.
In a written statement, the Transportation Department said the
IG report "...will help develop our response to this
Scovell recommended the federal government require scheduled
airlines using aircraft with more than 30 passenger seats set
limits on how long stranded passengers can be held on board an
He also recommended that the government require large and
medium-sized hub airports to monitor on-board delays, and demand an
action plan from airlines whenever a loaded plane has spent two
hours on the tarmac.