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TravelHaven News Brief – Tarmac Delay Goes Into Effect Thursday

CNN reports that the new tarmac delay rule, which will charge airlines up to $27,500 per passenger when domestic flights are delayed for more than three hours on the runway, goes into effect on Thursday. It is the maximum fine allowed for violating an aviation consumer law.

“Passengers on flights delayed on the tarmac have a right to know they will not be held aboard a plane indefinitely,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “This is an important consumer protection, and we believe it should take effect as planned.”

LaHood’s department recently denied requests from several airlines for exceptions to the rule. Delta, American Airlines and Continental Airlines all requested exceptions for flights leaving New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, where runway construction has increased congestion. US Airways and JetBlue also asked for exceptions.

Kate Hanni, a passenger advocate and founder of FlyersRights.org, has celebrated the new rule: “We are both thrilled and gratified that DOT has taken a hard stand against long tarmac delays as a safety issue. We believe that 700 million travelers a year will benefit knowing they can reasonably predict the outcome of their flight knowing they cannot be held longer than 3 hours in a sealed metal tube!”
Others are less enthusiastic. David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, believes that “placing time deadlines on safety-related activities should never occur.”