# The Passenger Bill of Rights for the airline industry

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Domestic airlines flights are subject to this law, which requires that the airline cite a specific maximum time that passengers will be left sitting on the tarmac in the event of problems. If a flight is left sitting for a period of time longer than that advertised, the airline can be fined $27,500 per passenger. I haven't given this any thought but wanted to throw it out for discussion. Why not leave enough for the TSB to cover the cost of enforcing the law, then give the rest [most of it] to the affected passengers? ## Answers and Replies Related General Discussion News on Phys.org you know how bureaucrats are. they'll find a way to spend it. if you don't spend every dime, you'll have less to spend next year. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member you know how bureaucrats are. they'll find a way to spend it. if you don't spend every dime, you'll have less to spend next year. I don't understand your point. It would simply be a matter of Congress mandating where the money goes. By accepting the money, one agrees not to sue, which I would imagine is an option if the airline violates their published contract. I don't understand your point. It would simply be a matter of Congress mandating where the money goes. By accepting the money, one agrees not to sue, which I would imagine is an option if the airline violates their published contract. the point is they'll ask TSB how much they need to enforce it, and TSB will find a way to say all of it, and probably more. turbo Gold Member I can't tell you how many wasted hours I have spent in Newark because of "equipment problems" or "weather problems" at the destination. The problem with excuse #2 is that Bangor International Airport was always kept clear of snow and well-maintained in all conditions because it was home to a SAC refueling wing that had to be ready to fly at all times. One time, I was stuck in Newark with a flight crew that HAD to be in Bangor for an early-morning departure. I called ground-control in Bangor, and told the crew what the Bangor controllers told me about the weather conditions there (light fog and mist). The crew chartered a limousine (a small bus, actually) to take them to Bangor, and insisted that I accompany them. I got to the airport very late, but at least I got to get home in the early morning, and had a young and cute seat-mate (new flight attendant) slumping all over me all the way to the airport. She was drooling, too, but I attribute that to her sleep-deprivation and not to my physical attributes. :tongue: Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member Airline travel is probably about the only circumstance in civilized society that allows a vendor to literally hold their customers hostage. Once that door closes, it is near to impossible to get off the plane. That is just unacceptable when the duration of the event gets into many hours. In a very real sense, passengers can become hostages. It is a form of torture and some people do lose it. I've been in a few bad situations and I've seen people lose it. It seems logical to me that a failure to honor the published promises in this regard entitles the victims to compensation.$20K per passenger sounds just about right.

turbo
Gold Member
Continental's short-flights were the worst ever in this regard. They needed to have a plane and crew at Bangor for the next morning, and if the flights were lightly-loaded, they would strand you at Newark claiming all kinds of problems for which they didn't have to compensate you, until they got a plane-ful of passengers (usually for the last flight out). I HATE Continental. The flight crew that adopted me and took me back to Maine were pretty impressed because I had called around and done research. When the gate agent cited "mechanical failure", I gave him the flight number and the tail number of the plane that came into Newark and departed that was supposedly our ride back home, and when the agent backed down from that lie and cited weather problems, I gave him the telephone number to the Bangor airport and gave him the current weather conditions. I did this rather loudly, so all the of the stranded people at the gate could get an idea what Continental was doing to them.

If you have every been stuck at Newark, you know that it's not a pretty thing. At least at O'Hare you have a chance at spending some time getting some over-priced food and coffee. Newark is a Soviet-era Gulag of an airport.

Domestic airlines flights are subject to this law, which requires that the airline cite a specific maximum time that passengers will be left sitting on the tarmac in the event of problems. If a flight is left sitting for a period of time longer than that advertised, the airline can be fined $27,500 per passenger. I haven't given this any thought but wanted to throw it out for discussion. Why not leave enough for the TSB to cover the cost of enforcing the law, then give the rest [most of it] to the affected passengers? I had not considered this either - it's a good topic for discussion. While domestic delays are frustrating - foreign travel can be much worse. I had a flight out of Thessaloniki Airport in Greece once with a "layover" - somewhere I never heard of previously. It was Summertime and very hot. We were on an older and smaller passenger jet (all seats filled) and landed at the "somewhere" location on time. It turns out the location did not have a terminal and was basically a parcel/freight pick-up stop. The layover lasted a few hours as we waited on the plane, with the motors (and air) turned off. As mentioned, it was very hot outside and we sat in the mid-day sun. On a positive note, they did open the door to bring in fresh air. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member I had not considered this either - it's a good topic for discussion. What struck me was that by publishing a specific limit, they have entered into a contract with the customer. If a company violates a contract, they are open to litigation. Given that this violation of the contract is form of duress, and given the mental anguish and physical discomfort that one must sometimes endure, it seems that civil liablity is the next logical step. This could be avoided by awarding the lion's share of the existing penalty to the victims. While domestic delays are frustrating - foreign travel can be much worse. I had a flight out of Thessaloniki Airport in Greece once with a "layover" - somewhere I never heard of previously. It was Summertime and very hot. We were on an older and smaller passenger jet (all seats filled) and landed at the "somewhere" location on time. It turns out the location did not have a terminal and was basically a parcel/freight pick-up stop. The layover lasted a few hours as we waited on the plane, with the motors (and air) turned off. As mentioned, it was very hot outside and we sat in the mid-day sun. On a positive note, they did open the door to bring in fresh air. My worst experience was trying to land in Lima, Peru. The airport was fogged in and we ran out of fuel while waiting to land. We ended up landing at a military base where we were apparently held hostage [literally] until Delta agree to pay the price demanded for fuel. When we saw military guys with machine guns take positions around the plane, we knew it was getting interesting. It was hot [~100 degrees F], we ran out of water and soft drinks, the toilets were full, and by the end people were starting to freak out. In total we were on that plane for 24 hours. Luckily I had worked 36 hours straight before getting on the plane, so I slept through most of it. We sat on the runway for about six hours once, IIRC, on a domestic flight. There were numerous episodes that involved up to a few hours. Funny, I was thinking about the consequences of a law like this? If I were still a frequent flyer, I would be flying with the airline citing the shortest maximum tarmac time. Sooner or later it's bound to pay off! Last edited: I don't understand your point. It would simply be a matter of Congress mandating where the money goes. When Proton Soup said, "you know how bureaucrats are. they'll find a way to spend it. if you don't spend every dime, you'll have less to spend next year," I understood him to mean, based on my own experience with government spending, is that next year's budgets are largely determined by whether you spent what you were given this year. If not, the budget director's reason is that you obviously didn't need it, therefore that amount will be removed to be used elsewhere. I don't know about this bill... I prefer my silent pact to me: If I'm on the tarmac for more than 4 hours, I'm blowing a hatch and getting off. Good luck getting that bird in the air with a blown door you have to re-attach and certify with a new slide! Think about it, that flight recently was stuck on the tarmac for 11 hours on the INCOMING leg of an international trip. How did NO ONE on that flight just turn the handle on an emergency door!? Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member I don't know about this bill... I prefer my silent pact to me: If I'm on the tarmac for more than 4 hours, I'm blowing a hatch and getting off. Good luck getting that bird in the air with a blown door you have to re-attach and certify with a new slide! Think about it, that flight recently was stuck on the tarmac for 11 hours on the INCOMING leg of an international trip. How did NO ONE on that flight just turn the handle on an emergency door!? That is an option, but you will go directly to jail. Or worse, they may not credit your frequent flyer miles to your account! Last edited: That is an option, but you will go directly to jail. Or worse, they may not credit your frequent flyer miles to your account! You might fare better if you irritate everyone else on the plane to throw you out and close the hatch behind you? However, baggage recovery might be an issue. Al68 Domestic airlines flights are subject to this law, which requires that the airline cite a specific maximum time that passengers will be left sitting on the tarmac in the event of problems. If a flight is left sitting for a period of time longer than that advertised, the airline can be fined$27,500 per passenger.

I haven't given this any thought but wanted to throw it out for discussion. Why not leave enough for the TSB to cover the cost of enforcing the law, then give the rest [most of it] to the affected passengers?
I partially agree on this. I see no justification whatsoever for government, instead of passengers, to collect money from the airline because of passenger inconvenience. It's like government is making the airline compensate passengers for their time, then taxing it at 100%.
$20K per passenger sounds just about right. But that's pretty extreme. If that were the case, every flight in the country would be delayed on purpose, with passengers conspiring to figure out how to get$20K each without getting in trouble. (Sight exaggeration, maybe. But $20K is a lot of money for some of us). A more modest compensation per hour (above the specified allowed time) seems far more reasonable to me. Something a little less tempting than a bag of gold. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member A more modest compensation per hour (above the specified allowed time) seems far more reasonable to me. Something a little less tempting than a bag of gold. The idea of an hourly compensation is logical. I was just using the existing flat penalty of$27,500 per passenger, as a basis. As it is right now, once a flight has exceeded the maximum delay time, the airline has no additional incentive to get the passengers off the plane.

I don't think a passenger can delay a flight, esp once the plane is on the tarmac.

Al68
The idea of an hourly compensation is logical. I was just using the existing flat penalty of $27,500 per passenger, as a basis. As it is right now, once a flight has exceeded the maximum delay time, the airline has no additional incentive to get the passengers off the plane. I think most passengers would think a couple hundred bucks, or a refund, or something similar would be fair for a few hours delay. Certainly much better than knowing that government got paid$27,500 for their time and inconvenience while they got nothing.
I don't think a passenger can delay a flight, esp once the plane is on the tarmac.
For $20K apiece, they could afford to hire outside help. Have you ever seen those reality shows that get people on the street to do far more for far less money? That is an option, but you will go directly to jail. Or worse, they may not credit your frequent flyer miles to your account! You have to ask yourself: arrest and bail... or 11 MORE hours in a metal sausage with stale air and a sore back? Besides, how's that going to play in the media?... if a flight attendant can just get pissed, curse everyone out, grab beers and do the same... I think someone who decides to escape virtual imprisonment is going to be given a fair shake. Either way, at least I'd be away from crying babies and funk... I can live with criminals, after all they run our airline industry. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member ... Besides, how's that going to play in the media?... if a flight attendant can just get pissed, curse everyone out, grab beers and do the same... I think someone who decides to escape virtual imprisonment is going to be given a fair shake.. The attendant was arrested at his nearby home about a half an hour later by Port Authority police. Steven Slater, 38, of the Belle Harbor section of Queens, N.Y., has been charged with criminal mischief and reckless endangerment, according to a spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which runs the New York-area airports. The case is still being investigated but will be referred to the Queens District Attorney's office... http://abcnews.go.com/US/jetblue-fl...-slater-arrested-flight-jfk/story?id=11361298 Slater pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal mischief in October for the runway meltdown that briefly turned him into a hero of the working stiff... http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local...ven_slater_up_to_seeing_a_shrink_trying_.html Yeah... and the result is that he has to attend counseling. It's not as though the man is a heroin addict or that he's going to return to a life of crime, so invoking the possible sentence is incredibly unlikely. I'd add, this guy was there as his JOB, he used the intercom to curse people out, stole beer, and then left. I think you can make a MUCH better case when your plane is stuck on the tarmac after a double-digit overseas flight, up to 11 HOURS. No theft, no cursing, just escape from unfit conditions... the only real loss is that where the other passengers can hope to sue and settle, you've cashed in that chance to get out of the aluminum tube. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member I think most passengers would think a couple hundred bucks, or a refund, or something similar would be fair for a few hours delay. Certainly much better than knowing that government got paid$27,500 for their time and inconvenience while they got nothing.For $20K apiece, they could afford to hire outside help. Have you ever seen those reality shows that get people on the street to do far more for far less money? The existing fine is$27,500. That is already the law. Why let the government have all of the money?

I still don't see how anyone could conspire to delay a flight without getting arrested in the process. How exactly would one pull this off?

I would add that missing a bus is an inconvenience, being held hostage in a sardine can for six or eight hours is quite another thing. I can esp testify to this as I start getting claustrophobic. It's not a fear reaction in the classic sense of the word, rather I would describe it more as Chinese water torture. After a point I feel I am about to crawl out of my skin. I've learned to deal with this as a traveler, but when we start talking about three to six hours waiting to take off for a long flight, I can easily reach my limit. There have certainly been times when I would have gladly eaten the price of the ticket just to get the hell out of there. But the only way to do that was to get arrested or fake a heart attack [Or, in the case of my trip to Lima, get shot!].

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The existing fine is $27,500. That is already the law. Why let the government have all of the money? I still don't see how anyone could conspire to delay a flight without getting arrested in the process. How exactly would one pull this off? I would add that missing a bus is an inconvenience, being held hostage in a sardine can for six or eight hours is quite another thing. I can esp testify to this as I start getting claustrophobic. It's not a fear reaction in the classic sense of the word, rather I would describe it more as Chinese water torture. After a point I feel I am about to crawl out of my skin. I've learned to deal with this as a traveler, but when we start talking about three to six hours waiting to take off for a long flight, I can easily reach my limit. There have certainly been times when I would have gladly eaten the price of the ticket just to get the hell out of there. But the only way to do that was to get arrested or fake a heart attack [Or, in the case of my trip to Lima, get shot!]. re: bold: AFAIK it's a federal offense to knowingly do that, even if your means are legal. Realistically, you'd have to phone in a bomb scare or some 1980's prank-movie BS, and as you say... hence arrest, hence federal prison. BTW Ivan, your reaction to confinement isn't exactly how everyone reacts, but it's not phobic or very abnormal. You could probably use some basic therapeutic techniques to handle the most acute experience possible... as you did in avoiding the wrong end of a gun. Then, if all else fails... benzodiazapines or a hypnotic until you reach destination B. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member A few related thoughts here... Firstly, this isn't about delayed flights. It is about having no means of exiting the plane once it has left the gate. No matter why a flight is delayed, people shouldn't be forced to sit in a can for hours, against their will. Even if the passengers were offered the option to pay a surcharge for deplaning, it would at least provide a means of escape. Simply surrendering one's seat and having to catch another flight, would probably be enough to prevent abuse. Also, it seems to me that this is a systemic problem that has been ignored because there was no incentive to address the problem. Now there is. Next, the fine of$27.5K per head was likely chosen because it was considered a reasonable incentive for the airline. That amount is not determined by the level of inconvenience [or torture] to the passengers.

Given the level of incentive required, whatever the number is, most of it should go to the victims.

Again, it does bother me that once the limit has been exceeded, there is no additional incentive for the airline to remedy the situation. A per-hour charge after some minimum makes the most sense.

I would like to see market competition for the lowest minimum tarmac time before penalties apply. [e.g. Fly Delta and you could win the lottery! ] To a large extent, this would force the airline industry to stop treating the flying public like cattle.

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Al68
The existing fine is $27,500. That is already the law. Why let the government have all of the money? I already agreed that government shouldn't get any of it. But the$27,500 isn't levied for for every delay, it's discretionary, and is only levied for a fraction of delays.

It seems more reasonable to reduce the amount, but make it a contractual obligation between the airline and its customers, so that it gets paid regardless of whether government is feeling frisky or not. A smaller amount paid every time could be a larger incentive to the airline than a larger amount levied sporadically at the whim of a government agency.

It could even be a progressive system, where the hourly rate gets exponentially higher for each subsequent hour. That would simultaneously be a big incentive for the airline not to have unreasonably long delays, and not be an incentive for the airline to rush safety precautions just to prevent short delays.