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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