Will Urge Congress To Enact Aviation Policy Reform
Imagine you're a passenger trapped
onboard a commercial airliner, stuck for several hours on a
desolate ramp somewhere south of Nowhere due to weather stubbornly
clinging over DFW or JFK. You're tired, you're hungry, you're
number 14 in line for the lav... and you're more than a little
Think it could be any worse? Now imagine you're one of the
flight attendants onboard that plane, tasked with overseeing a
cabin full of angry passengers, who view you as the most
recognizable symbol of the nefarious airline that, in their minds,
stuck them there. (Also keep in mind that airline probably doesn't
pay you all that well, either.)
This likely explains why the world's largest flight attendant
union, AFA-CWA International, has joined forces with the Coalition
for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights (CAPBOR), to urge Congress
to address serious flaws in current aviation policy regarding
flight delays, and airliners stuck on the ramp.
"Passengers and flight attendants are continually frustrated at
airline management’s inability to handle long ground delays
and are therefore urging Congress to pass the Passenger Bill of
Rights," said Kate Hanni, CAPBOR President. "Airlines have
repeatedly failed to provide Congress with any sort of deplanement
plan, despite a call from several prominent leaders. This arrogant
attempt to circumvent Congressional requests is just another
example of how airlines continue to leave passenger rights on the
AFA-CWA International President Patricia Friend said flight
attendants want a Passenger's Bill of Rights that has some teeth...
or else, it's just words.
"A Passenger Bill of Rights will be an empty promise until
Congress enacts serious aviation policy reforms such as substantial
investments to update and upgrade our air traffic control system;
increases in funding for Airport Improvement Projects (AIPs); a
carry-on baggage policy that applies to every airline and every
flight; ensuring Essential Air Service (EAS) to small communities;
improving cabin air quality for crewmembers and passengers; and
providing a safe working environment on board aircraft for flight
attendants," said Friend.
As ANN reported earlier this
week, the AFA-CWA took United Airlines to task for
that carrier's implementation of a new policy to handle ground
delays, naming extraordinary delays, "flights of note." Passengers
on those flights suffering over four hours of delay on taxi-out, 90
minutes on taxi-in or on ground diversion delays of over four hours
will be eligible for 20% off their next round trip ticket on United
and a $10 meal voucher.
Hanni and Friend each
took issue with United's new policy, starting with the term used to
describe problem flights.
"To trivialize both the passengers and the crew on flights held
up to 11 hours in deplorable conditions, by calling these horrific
flights 'flights of note', is absurd," Hanni said. "Management took
'flights of notoriety' and minimized them as 'flights of note' and
it struck the wrong chord!"
"For far too long airline executives have dictated federal
aviation policy resulting in passengers and aviation employees
having to take a back seat," added Friend. "Congress and consumers
may want a Passenger Bill of Rights, but management has to
ultimately enforce the law and airline executives have historically
shown that customer service is a convenience for them if it does
not impact the bottom line. A Passenger Bill of Rights may set high
expectations for passengers and when airline management drops the
ball, flight attendants will bear the burden."