New York's Passenger Bill Of Rights Goes Into Effect

Back in those lazy summer days of August, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer signed a “passenger bill of rights” into law—requiring airlines who keep passengers on a grounded airplane more than 3 hours to provide water, snacks, fresh air and a working toilet.

The airlines, horrified at the thought of being required to give people water and then provide a place where said water could be disposed of after it had served its intended purpose, tried to stop the law but lost when U.S. District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn ruled in favor of the bill of rights.

The law went into effect yesterday.

NY’s Airline Passenger Bill of Rights Goes Into Effect [Gothamist]


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  1. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    3 hours? 3 HOURS? You give a pregnant woman, small child, or elderly person water and tell them not to piss for 3 hours. My ass. A person should be allowed access to the restroom the second they step foot on the damn plane. You telling me the john doesn’t work when the plane is grounded or something? Bullshit. I’ve pissed in an RV both while moving and while parked. And I tend to think an airplane is slightly more advanced than an RV. Even Greyhound lets you use the john on the bus while moving or parked, restriction-free.

    Crap like this is why I will never fly.

  2. What The Geek says:

    This is one of those laws that shouldn’t need to be a law – it should be common sense. I actually laughed out loud when I read that the airlines tried to fight this one.

  3. Infoclast says:

    Impotent regulations are only going to make the problem worse. Now that airlines only have to meet the 3 hour requirement, they won’t bother to offer these services only one or two hours into a delay.

  4. MercuryPDX says:

    LOL I clicked through, wondering if the next paragraph was:

    “Only 12 hours later, the law has been violated by several airlines serving passengers out of JFK”

  5. Hoss says:

    I’m not seeing how this can be effective. All the airline needs to do is give out snacks and water while the plane is on the ground (in NY). If they should run out of drinks and food before or after takeoff, there’s no violation. The issue is deeper than water and pretzels.

  6. backbroken says:

    Passenger bill of rights? These are simply human rights that everyone should be provided.

    Lock up a wild animal in a cage for 3+ hours and make it crap on itself and someone will report you to animal control. Do it to people on an airplane and it’s considered standard business practices.

  7. forgottenpassword says:

    Looks like those with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome…. where you pretty-much MUST take a shit VERY quickly when an “attack” happens) …. will be shit out of luck then?

  8. kris in seattle says:

    While I was returning home, I had to pee. While at the Houston airport, waiting to board my connecting flight home I had to pee. And of course, there was an insane line at the girl’s restroom, so when I boarded the plane, I went immediately to the bathroom and NO questions were asked. Of course, I’m sure it helped that we were sitting in the very back.

  9. IrisMR says:

    3 hours?! That’s ridiculous. If they can’t get their timing right and offer service on time, services must be offered the following second.

  10. LadyCarolineLamb says:

    The problem with this Passenger Bill of Rights is, while they have the right idea, people are still going to complain when there is winter weather and the planes are waiting in line to take off as soon as the weather is forcasted to break. Unfortunately de-icing fluid has time limitations, so you end up often needing to deice again. In weather situations where this is the ONLY chance to get to the destination, many people elect to wait on the runway and take their chance. The plane can’t just go back to the gate whenever someone wants to get off, so now that there is a specific 3 hr limit, even if 5 mins later you are finally cleared for take-off (remember no other way to get to destination) the flt will be cancelled reagardless in order to follow this new Passenger rule. Often in weather situations where there IS a forecast POSSIBILITY of getting better, the crew will make an announcement in the boarding area that if you want to give it a try you’re welcome to come…then there are times where you get to the runway and the new forecast comes out and there are unexpected delays. The rule should be for the airlines to use COMMON SENSE not have stupid limits that will result in people being stranded at connecting cities, etc more than ever before. Obviously it is insane to leave people on the runway for 15 hours like these rare stories that we hear about so much (because they are rare they are news), but you don’t want to make things worse for OTHER scenarios….

  11. Trauma_Hound says:

    My solution would be to get out of my seat, when told not to sit down, explain I had to piss, then not comply. Great fucking arrest me. You just violated my civil rights, and I’ll actually get to piss. I have a fucking right to take a leak when I need to, or I’m going to whip it out and piss on your fucking leg.

  12. Beerad says:

    @Trauma_Hound: Unfortunately, you don’t have the fucking right to do whatever you fucking want when you fucking agree to abide by the fucking air travel rules when you bought a fucking ticket. If you want to fucking piss whenever you fucking want, enjoy that fucking 36-hour cross-country drive.

  13. Canoehead says:

    How about requiring them to turn on the A/C while you wait? Last summer we were stuck on CX889 at JFK for about three hours (maybe a bit less) and the heat was just nasty – very unpleasant for a healthy person, perhaps more serious for children, elderly etc. To be fair, Cathay gave us full access to the washrooms, and was serving small cups of water upon request – they always allow access to the washroom and their flight attendants are pretty good about letting you go to the John when there’s no danger, even if the seatbelt sign is lit.

  14. Lyre says:

    However you look at it, it is the right idea, but poorly applied. I do not disagree that something needs to be done, but this is not the way to go about it.

    First of all, from the standpoint of the airlines, and of major airports, once an aircraft leaves the terminal, their gate spot is no longer valid. Meaning, once they leave, they cannot go back.

    Additionally, it would seem you are blaming delays strictly on the airlines, which is also unfair. Our Air Traffic Control system is terribly aged, and increased travel demand has forced increasing loads on the controllers. Because of the increased capacity, more planes must be worked into the system, and runways become clogged.

    As a result of this, if an aircraft is stuck waiting in line, and after “3 hours,” people demand to be let off, the plane then has to leave the queue, find somewhere to offload their passengers, because the departing gate is now occupied by another aircraft.

    In the meantime, the airline is losing revenue from passengers not flying, fuel, which accounts for much of their expenses, is being used for nothing, and their cost is skyrocketing. With increased fines now be levied, the airlines will lose millions, mainly because people are demanding to fly more often, and more at peak times. The system itself is broken, so it is truly unfair to penalize the airlines singularly.
    On the topic of weather related delays, all I can say is that I would much rather be delayed or canceled, then end up dying when hundreds of pounds of ice accumulate on my wings, which adds undue weight to the plane, along with destroying the potential to create lift.

    One final thing that is worth mentioning, if individual states begin levying their own respective different laws on this topic, it will cause airlines to look to destinations where there are less strict rules. This would be much the same way that a company in a joint-venture situation would expand only in the country where they get the best deal.

    This is a situation where each carrier should make their own rules, and enforce them accordingly. Government intervention on the local level would do naught but complicate things more so than they already are.