A Big List Of Airline and Airport "Tarmac Stranding" Policies

We’ve been looking over the Department of Transportation’s spiffy new report about “tarmac strandings” (or “long on-board delays” as their now being called,) and have located some pretty interesting stuff.

It seems that airlines vary wildly when it comes to their on-board delay policies. Some include very specific information (ATA specifies when to order food) while other airlines are flying without any policy at all (Delta, for example.)

This list includes the airline’s definition “extended period of time,” as well as airline’s planned response to an extended delay, if any.

Some airlines say they’ll take you off the plane just 1 hour after arriving (Northwest). Others think 5 hours sounds reasonable (JetBlue).

Sadly, airline policies are not the whole story. Some airports have plans in place to help stranded passengers and some do not. In all, this data strongly suggests that airline and airport plans should be standardized, but until that day comes: Compare, contrast, and choose wisely when you buy your next ticket.

Alaska
“Extended Period Of Time” means: 90 minutes
How long before they let you off the %@#$% plane: 2 hours (for arrivals.)

Aloha
“Extended Period Of Time” means: Not defined.
How long before they let you off the %@#$% plane: No policy.

American
“Extended Period Of Time” means: 2 hours
How long before they let you off the %@#$% plane: 4 hours (as of April 10, 2007)

ATA
“Extended Period Of Time” means: In 1 hour you get beverages and in 4 hours, catering.
How long before they let you off the %@#$% plane: No policy.

Continental

“Extended Period Of Time” means: 2 hours
How long before they let you off the %@#$% plane: 4 hours for departures (as of June 15, 2007)

Delta
“Extended Period Of Time” means: Not defined.
How long before they let you off the %@#$% plane: No policy.

Hawaiian
“Extended Period Of Time” means: 2 hours
How long before they let you off the %@#$% plane: 2 hours (as of August 1, 2001)

JetBlue
“Extended Period Of Time” means: Not defined.
How long before they let you off the %@#$% plane: 5 hours (as of February 20, 2007)

Midwest

“Extended Period Of Time” means: Not defined.
How long before they let you off the %@#$% plane: No policy.

Northwest

“Extended Period Of Time” means: 1 hour for arrivals and 3 hours for departures.
How long before they let you off the %@#$% plane: 1 hour for arrivals and 3 hours for departures.

Southwest
“Extended Period Of Time” means: 2 hours
How long before they let you off the %@#$% plane: 2 hours

United
“Extended Period Of Time” means: Not defined.
How long before they let you off the %@#$% plane: 1 and a half hours for arrivals and 4 hours for departures
(as of September 5, 2007)

US Airways

“Extended Period Of Time” means: 2 hours
How long before they let you off the %@#$% plane: No policy.

A Few Example Airport Delay Policies:

Seattle-Tacoma International
Plan to deplane passengers? Yes
Airport policy is to determine remote parking locations for aircraft to deplane passengers and provide buses if requested.

Dallas/Fort Worth International
Plan to deplane passengers? Yes
Airport policy is to monitor length of time hold positions of aircraft. If over 2 hours, coordinate aircraft return to gate.

Austin/Bergstrom International
Plan to deplane passengers? No
Airport policy is to determine parking spots of diverted aircraft.

Indianapolis International
Plan to deplane passengers? Yes
Airport policy is to provide available gate or remotely deplane passengers to buses upon request.

George Bush Intercontinental
Plan to deplane passengers? Yes
Airport policy is to provide buses when requested.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International
Plan to deplane passengers? Yes
Airport policy is to provide mobile lounges to take passengers to gate when requested by airlines.

Honolulu International
Plan to deplane passengers? No
Airport policy is to encourage carriers to off-load passengers and offer immediate assistance by, among other things, offering use of available airport facilities.

John F. Kennedy International (New York)
Plan to deplane passengers? Yes
Airport policy is to, after 2 hours and upon request, help to find alternate airport locations to safely deplane passengers.

General Mitchell International (Milwaukee)
Plan to deplane passengers? Yes
Airport policy is to provide buses when requested.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International
Plan to deplane passengers? Yes
Airport policy is to provide air stairs and buses to deplane passengers when requested.

Dallas Love Field
Plan to deplane passengers? Yes
Airport policy is to provide emergency services upon request.

Chicago O’Hare International
Plan to deplane passengers? No
Airport policy is to monitor length of time hold positions of aircraft.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International
Plan to deplane passengers? Yes
Airport policy is to help with deplanements via jet bridge or remote hardstand and provide buses to transport passengers.

ACTIONS NEEDED TO MINIMIZE LONG, ON-BOARD FLIGHT DELAYS (PDF)
[DOT]
(Photo:meghannmarco)