Shaan Hurley is my friend on Facebook. He often uses its status updates to chronicle his travel woes when journeying from place to place to represent Autodesk at various events. For example, he will fly to AUGI CAD Camp in Phoenix on May 20. You can get the list of all upcoming CAD Camps from the AUGI site. I think he will be happy that a new tarmac rule goes into effect on Thursday.
The rule is designed to prevent planes on domestic routes from sitting on the tarmac for more than 3 hours with passengers on board. Airlines who violate the rule could face fines of up to $27,500 per passenger which is the maximum allowed for violating any aviation consumer rule.
The Department of Transportation recently denied requests for exceptions to the rule that were prompted by runway construction at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport - one of the nation's most congested airports.
Some airlines requested exemptions at neighboring Laggard and Newark Liberty International airports.
Another airline asked for a similar exemption at Philadelphia International Airport, arguing that it shares the same airspace, is part of the same air traffic control center, and has the same congestion challenges as JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark.
I don't get it. Airlines should re-route or reschedule flights to minimize congestion. That's the point of the law. The law allows passengers to have a reasonable expectation as to when the plane will take off after they have boarded. Maybe I am crazy, but I consider longer than 3 hours unreasonable. It seems even crazier that the airlines would want a variance to trap passengers longer.
Opponents of this law state that the 3 hour rule places time deadlines on safety-related activities. They contend that the rule also creates misery in the form of many more canceled flights. They believe that airlines are likely to cancel more flights during the busy summer travel season to avoid penalties incurred by long delays. I hate to break it to them, but that's what I want. If an airline is going to keep me on the plane for more than 3 hours before we even take off, reschedule or cancel the flight. I would much rather spend my time in the airport where I can sit down, stand up, walk around, watch TV, buy a magazine, have some lunch, etc. I also have the option to book a different flight. I find it hard to believe how any airline or passenger would want otherwise. Each airline is as likely to gain a customer from another airline's cancellation as it is to lose one for canceling its own flight.
Here's to you Shaan. This one's for you.