Attention airline passengers: your complaining has paid off. Starting tomorrow, the nation’s new tarmac delay rule goes into effect. If (when?), domestic flights are delayed beyond three hours, airlines will be fined up to $27,500 per stranded passenger. Carriers will also be required to provide food and water for passengers within two hours. There were nearly 900 ground delays of at least three hours between February 2009 and February 2010, according to the latest government figures. Airlines including Delta, American and Continental have requested certain exceptions. So far, these requests have been denied and transportation secretary Ray LaHood is promising strong enforcement. Passenger advocate groups are cheering, but airlines warn there may be more cancelled flights as a result. Can cash-strapped airlines afford this? Will it be an improvement for travelers? Or might it cause even more travel nightmares?
Michael Cintron, Director for Consumer and Travel Industry Affairs, for the International Airline Passengers Association
Amy Cohn, Assistant Professor, Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan, College of Engineering