Passenger's Bill Of Rights Taxis Toward Passage

The Passenger’s Bill of Rights returns to the Congressional spotlight late tomorrow afternoon, but the bill isn’t yet strong enough to deserve passage.

Let’s see where the bill currently stands:

`Sec. 42301. Emergency contingency plans

`(a) Submission of Air Carrier and Airport Plans- Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this section, each air carrier providing covered air transportation at a large hub airport or medium hub airport and each operator of a large hub airport or medium hub airport shall submit to the Secretary of Transportation for review and approval an emergency contingency plan in accordance with the requirements of this section.

`(b) Covered Air Transportation Defined- In this section, the term `covered air transportation’ means scheduled passenger air transportation provided by an air carrier using aircraft with more than 60 seats.

`(c) Air Carrier Plans-

`(1) PLANS FOR INDIVIDUAL AIRPORTS- An air carrier shall submit an emergency contingency plan under subsection (a) for–

`(A) each large hub airport and medium hub airport at which the carrier provides covered air transportation; and

`(B) each large hub airport and medium hub airport at which the carrier has flights for which it has primary responsibility for inventory control.

`(2) CONTENTS- An emergency contingency plan submitted by an air carrier for an airport under subsection (a) shall contain a description of how the air carrier will–

`(A) provide food, water that meets the standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300f et seq.), restroom facilities, cabin ventilation, and access to medical treatment for passengers onboard an aircraft at the airport that is on the ground for an extended period of time without access to the terminal;

`(B) allow passengers to deplane following excessive delays; and

`(C) share facilities and make gates available at the airport in an emergency.

`(d) Airport Plans- An emergency contingency plan submitted by an airport operator under subsection (a) shall contain a description of how the airport operator, to the maximum extent practicable, will provide for the deplanement of passengers following excessive delays and will provide for the sharing of facilities and make gates available at the airport in an emergency.

This bill would only require airlines to have a plan explaining how they would provide food, water, and facilities to famished and angry passengers. Having a plan is not the same as providing strict requirements that airlines must follow.

The Senate could strengthen the bill by looking to an earlier House version. “Extended period of time” should be strictly defined as three hours, and once that extended period of time expires, airlines should be forced to deplane passengers. Failing to provide a strict time frame gives airlines too much undeserved responsibility to regulate themselves, a failing strategy that made a Passenger’s Bill of Rights necessary in the first place.

Work on the bill starts tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. We’ll be keeping our eye on the Senate to see what happens.

FAA Reauthorization Act Of 2007–Motion To Proceed [GovTrack]
H.R. 2881: FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007 [GovTrack]
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Comments

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  1. Kaix says:

    “More than 60 seats” is too high.. The language should be changed to “more than 30 seats” to fall in line with FAR Part 139. There’s no reason to be excluding regional airlines and passengers on regional jets.

  2. thirdbase says:

    Weak, Weak, Weak, I hope this bill is written in pencil cause it sure needs a lot of changes.

  3. colineff says:

    I was on an american airlines flight from dallas to lga
    we were on the plane for about 10 hours total, first of it was snowing, aprently dallas doesnt get much/any snow then some large airplane was taking up all the space and trucks to deice, then they decided to cancel the fight and alot of other flights were canceled, due to a lack of fuel waiting to deice, the captain requested that he refuel and fly but his bosses or w/e said no, from there we waited hours to get to a gate then they changed there mind and said oh yes it will take longer to wait for a gate then it would take just to deice fly to nashville and refuel the plane was short on food but what little they had they devided up and gave out, i felt we were taking care of verry well by the flight crew.

  4. CAznable says:

    I work for the airlines so I’m getting a kick out of these replies.

    This is full of fail. I understand the need of some of it (yes, they should need to provide food/water/dump the lavs) but what most people don’t get is the fact that we can’t just “turn your plane around” and give it a gate if you’ve been delayed. In a major hub, the moment your aircraft pushes the gate tends to occupy very, very quickly… and it may be a few hours before that aircraft is to leave. Once we’re out of gates, what then? All we can do is drop your aircraft off at a deice pad and then deplane you into busses to transport you across the airport — all while being under the scrutiny of armed security.

    Okay, you’re cool with that? Don’t expect your bags. Ramp agents are not allowed to head out to those deice pads to download aircraft — it may be a while before you see your bags. But hey, at least you’re off the plane, right?

  5. t325 says:

    @Kaix: It should be any passenger commercial aircraft, because some of the regional airlines operate tiny turboprop planes on short flights that don’t even have 30 seats.

    Hell, if anything, the regional jets need some sort of plan in place when things go wrong. You can practically live on an A380, 10 hours on the tarmac in one of those wouldn’t be terrible. But 10 hours on something like an Embraer jet? No thanks. Last week I flew STL-CLE nonstop, then back from CLE to STL via CVG, all on regional jets and even though each flight was less than 90 minutes in length, that was more than enough for me. I couldn’t imagine how bad 10 hours would be.

  6. ThunderRoad says:

    Another suck-up bill from the wholly-owned subsidiaries serving in congress. Weak.