The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced new rules today that would limit tarmac delays to three hours.
These new rules come after the so-called "Nightmare Flight" in August when a Continental Airlines flight from Houston to Minneapolis-St. Paul was redirected to Rochester International Airport because of severe weather. Passengers ended up getting trapped on the plane for six hours.
A second incident in August involved a Sun Country Flight from New York to Minnesota when a plane was stranded on the tarmac for five hours.
Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Clincher, a cosponsor of the Passenger Bill of Rights, praised the new rules in a statement released today.
“I’m pleased the Department of Transportation has taken this action to protect the rights of airline passengers,” said Klobuchar. “This is a victory for airline passengers everywhere. Recent incidents in Minnesota highlighted the need for some common-sense rules. Passengers shouldn’t be held captive for hours on end when the plane is just sitting on the airport tarmac.”
Sen. Al Franken also praised the new rule in a written statement.
“I thank Secretary LaHood for his thorough response to my and Chairman Oberstar’s request for broad review and am satisfied that the results will prevent future incidents like the one that Continental passengers in Rochester experienced this summer,” said Sen. Franken. “Their six hour ordeal was unacceptable and unfortunately not an isolated incident. I’m glad that with the new three hour limit imposed by the Department of Transportation today, it won’t happen again.”
The new rule would prohibit U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from allowing an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours except in the case of safety or security issues or if air traffic determined that returning the plane to the gate would disrupt airport operations.
The new rules also prohibits airlines from scheduling chronically delayed flights and making those who violate the provision subject to DOT enforcement. It would also require airline employees to monitor the effects of flight delays and cancellations and respond in a timely manner to customer complaints.