• Airlines introduce new consumer protection rules

    2010-04-28

    Passengers on commercial airlines can breathe a little easier this week, as the U.S. Department of Transportation introduces new rules on American flights aimed at preventing lengthy tarmac delays.

    The new rules, which go into effect on Thursday, April 29, ensures that U.S. airlines operating domestic flights cannot allow an aircraft to sit on the tarmac at large and medium hub airports for more than three hours without allowing passengers to disembark. Operators of international flights will be required to set their own time limits for such waits.

    Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood claims that the move is long overdue, and should not lead to more flight cancellations.

    "Airline passengers deserve to be treated fairly, and this new rule will require airlines to respect the rights of their customers," Secretary LaHood said. "We expect carriers to take steps to avoid tarmac delays and cancellations by adjusting their schedules and providing timely information to passengers. A little extra planning will minimize disruptions while ensuring that passengers are not trapped aboard airplanes indefinitely."

    The plan also requires U.S. Airlines to adopt customer service plans to deal with delays and cancellations in a more fast and direct manner, while regularly auditing themselves to assure compliance.
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