How Often Will The New Tarmac Delay Rule Come Into Play?

Today, the FAA’s new rule that will penalize airlines for planes stranded on the tarmac for three or more hours goes into effect. While the regulation has some up in arms, the big question is: How big of a hassle is this going to be for the airlines?

Here’s how the AP puts it into perspective:

The government said there were 903 delays of 3 hours or more last year — but that’s out of more than 6.4 million flights — one for every 7,143.

In other words, while you’re more likely to have a lengthy delay than sink a hole in one in golf (1 in 12,000, according to Golf Digest) it’s still pretty rare. But 4,717 flights were delayed between two and three hours last year. A number of those will likely be canceled once the rule goes into effect.

It’s that greyish area between 2-3 hours that will determine how many flights end up being turned back to the gates or just outright canceled. Since the penalty kicks in if passengers are still on the plane at the 3-hour mark, airlines are telling their pilots to turn back as early as 2 hours into a tarmac wait.

Do you think the new rule is going to improve airline efficiency? Or is it just going to strand passengers whose flights are canceled?

Have questions about the new tarmac rule, set to start Thursday? Here are some answers [Chicago Tribune]