New rules for airline passenger delays

April 25, 2010 at 3:55 PM
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DALLAS, April 25 (UPI) -- Under new U.S. regulations, airlines will face fines of as much as $27,500 per passenger if they hold them on taxiways for more than 3 hours, officials say.

A Northern California woman whose experience sitting for hours in an aircraft on a runway sparked a consumer movement says she's happy with the new rules going into effect Thursday, The Dallas Morning News reported.

"We're thrilled with the (Department of Transportation) regulation," Kate Hanni said. "It obviously validates our argument from the beginning that airlines don't have to hold people on the ground longer than 3 hours."

Three years ago, Hanni was on an American Airlines jet diverted to Austin, Texas, from Dallas. The airplane remained parked near the airport gates for hours, but no one could get off, Hanni said.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, in announcing the new regulation, said, "Passengers on flights delayed on the tarmac have a right to know they will not be held aboard a plane indefinitely."

Airline industry officials warn of problems under the new rule.

The regulation will cause cancellations, missed connections, mishandled bags and more passengers who won't get to where they wanted to go, David Castleveter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association of America, said. But he acknowledged the new rules are "a done deal."

"This is a rule," he said. "We're complying."

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