AirTalk for April 28, 2010

Tough tarmac delay rule goes into effect Thursday

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OLIVIER LABAN-MATTEI/AFP/Getty Images

Passengers wait before boarding a flight on April 20, 2010 at Orly airport, south of Paris. The two main airports in Paris will progressively open today to allow around three-quarters of scheduled international flights to operate, a French government minister said. Air traffic remained seriously disrupted across Europe as a cloud of ash released from Iceland's volcanic eruption forced many countries to close their airspace.

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?

Guest:

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


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