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November 01, 2010

New flight delay rule doesn't alway apply

Remember the brauhaha back in August of 2009 spurred by a Continental flight loaded with 47 passangers being delayed for six hours on the runway at the Rochester International Airport?


That incident, dubbed 'the flight from Hell,' was cited as major reason for the feds passing a new rule that flights can't be delayed for for more than three hours.

I spotted this piece today a similar flight nightmare - five hours trapped in a plane parked on the tarmac. However, the Rochester rule doesn't apply because it was an international flight. Hhhmmm.... there's always a loophole isn't there.

Here's a little from the USA Today article on this latest incident:

Lisa and Jeff Laub were enjoying a relaxing vacation in July until their flight home to Fort Lauderdale from the Bahamas turned into a nightmare.

The Spirit Airlines flight was supposed to take less than an hour, but the plane was diverted to West Palm Beach because of bad weather and low fuel. It remained on the airport tarmac there about five hours — with all the passengers aboard — before  taking off for Fort Lauderdale, about an hour away by car. Passengers, the Laubs say, were screaming to get off after three hours, and flight attendants were making passengers pay for food and drinks.

"It's the last time I'll ever fly that airline," Jeff Laub says. "Without a doubt, the government's rule allowing passengers to get off delayed domestic flights after three hours should be extended to international flights."

The flight wasn't governed by a new federal rule that requires airlines to let passengers off flights stranded for three hours or face steep fines. The reason: The plane was flying an international route, not a domestic one.

That could change. The Transportation Department is considering extending its tarmac-delay rule, which took effect in April and applies to flights
scheduled inside the USA's borders, to international flights, such as the one the Laubs were on. The proposal is part of a set of passenger-protection rules proposed in June. Although passenger advocates say the extension is needed to protect travelers on already lengthy flights, it's drawing  sharp opposition from the world's airlines, which warn of big disruptions.



I really hate being delayed whilst on the plane, it just seems that you never get told what is actually going on outsied. Maybe the flight crew don't even know themselves. Interesting post.

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