Airline Consumer Group Renews Call for Airport Tarmac Delay Contingency Plans
The non-profit airline consumer organization FlyersRights.org has renewed its call for mandatory airport tarmac delay contingency plans after flight diversions caused by an early winter storm resulted in hundreds of passengers being stranded on the tarmac for up to 10 hours.
On October 29th, with New York-area airports closed, some 23 flights were diverted to Hartford, Connecticut’s Bradley Field, including some international flights. Bradley Field was ill-prepared, and stranded passengers called the FlyersRights Passenger Hotline to report poor cabin conditions and medical emergencies on their flights. FlyersRights.org founder and executive director Kate Hanni said, “I chalk this up to airports having no contingency plans.”
Contingency plans, regulated and approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, could help prevent long tarmac strandings. Airports in the European Union are among the international airports that have them, as a result of regulations passed and implemented by the EU in 2004. “One contingency many EU airports have in place is the option to use passenger busses or co-busses that can deplane stranded passengers. Almost every country in the world has triple the number of co-busses the US has. The EU has over 2400; in the U.S. we have 65,” added Hanni. “This is one option the U.S. should explore.”
“We are pleased that the DOT is launching an investigation into this issue, and strongly urge the Department to issue a new rule requiring airports to develop contingency plans for tarmac delays, addressing preparations for these inevitable incidents. We are prepared to work around the clock with DOT and airports to develop these plans before the holiday travel season is upon us,” Hanni said.