Passenger Bill of Rights.
Over the last 12 years, airline travel has become more frustrating, with increased cancellations, prolonged delays on the tarmac, intensified security, and a scarcity of amenities. Passengers have suffered at the hands of the airline industry—with little relief in sight and no influential advocates.
Did you know that federal law preempts state law? When problems arise, your rights as a passenger don’t come from pro-consumer state laws, but instead, are governed by federal and international laws? And as of today, Congress has refused to pass any passengers’ rights legislation. Consequently, airlines are allowed to get away with just about anything, without any repercussion.
The DOT Makes an Effort.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) made a seeming effort in 2011 to remedy the situation. The DOT enacted the “Enhancing Air Passenger Protections” initiative, and implemented limited protections. For example, a domestic airline cannot keep you on the tarmac more than 3 hours, and foreign airlines at U.S. airports cannot keep you on the tarmac for 4 hours. Another small change is that airline carriers must provide adequate food and water to onboard passengers after two hours of being on the tarmac. But without Congress stepping in, nothing of any consequence will happen.
You Can Stay on the Tarmac for 2:58.
So to be clear, passengers can be on a US tarmac for 2 hours and 58 seconds, and if on an international flight that happens to be at a US airport, for 3 hours and 58 seconds without any consequences. Further, no adequate remedy is likely to be enforced, because the majority of the legislators are receiving funding, enhancements, and other support from the airline industry.
What can you do to protect yourself? People sit around and wait for Congress to act, yet it is YOUR responsibility to force Congress to act. They, like most everyone else, do only what they have to do. If not nudged, they will do nothing. If you really don’t like what is happening, gather petitions and force the hand of your local Congressional Representative and State Senator.
Join the Conversation.
I’m Attorney Francine Ward, a believer in action, not talk. What do you think? What are you DOING? Join the conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, my Twitter page, or in one of my LinkedIn Groups.