Consumer Group Says High Number Of Strandings Shows
Airlines' Not Improved
More airline passengers sustained lengthy tarmac delays in
June than in the four previous months combined, according to
Federal Aviation Administration statistics.
The data, compiled by the Federal Aviation Administration's
Bureau of Transportation Statistics, indicates that passengers on
278 aircraft suffered through tarmac delays of 3 hours or more in
June. Even that figure, however, fails to include international
flights or those of many small regional carriers.
"These numbers belie the airlines' contention that, if they're
only given time and flexibility to do so, they'll reduce tarmac
delays voluntarily," said Kate Hanni, founder and Executive
Director of FlyersRights.org, America's leading consumer
organization representing airline passengers.
Noting that many of the tarmac strandings are blamed by the
airlines on weather, Hanni joked, "God makes storms, but airlines
are the ones who make passengers sit through storms on the tarmac
-- they only think they're God."
The data came on the heels of reports this weekend of 47
passengers being sealed all night on the tarmac at the Rochester,
Minnesota airport on what has been described as a "nightmare
The Senate Commerce Committee has unanimously approved the
bipartisan Boxer-Snowe Airline Passengers Bill of Rights, which
would give passengers the option to disembark the aircraft after 3
hours. The legislation is now awaiting action by the full Senate,
but the House of Representatives has already passed a weaker
counterpart measure which allows airlines to set their own policies
for allowing passengers out of aircraft.
"It's a sad commentary that Congress has to require airlines to
give their passengers the respect they deserve as human beings and
paying customers, but lengthy tarmac delays on 278 flights in June
and 3,000 flights since January of 2007 tell the real story," said
Hanni. "Congress needs to pass the bipartisan Boxer-Snowe Airline
Passengers' Bill of Rights."