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Why we need the 3-hour tarmac rule

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  June 23, 2010 11:23 AM

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Stranded on Plane.jpg

Just in case it slipped by you: New federal rules that took effect in April require American carriers to let passengers exit planes stuck on airport tarmacs after three hours, and they must provide drinking water and snacks such as pretzels after two hours or face fines of as much as $27,500 a passenger for violations. There are exceptions but they mostly involve passenger safety and security concerns.

The rule was pushed by consumers, angry about being abused by airlines who wanted to minimize hassle for themselves in the event of a delay, If we needed a reminder about why we needed the rule in the first place we've just been provided one by the experiences of passengers on a diverted Virgin Atlantic flight stuck on the tarmac at Bradley International outside Hartford.

This from AP:


Bad weather grounded the flight from London to Newark, N.J., at Connecticut's Bradley International Airport on Tuesday night. Passengers told CNN they landed at about 8:20 p.m. and were kept on the plane until about 1 a.m. Wednesday without food or water.
"It was like four hours on the ground without any air conditioning. It was crazy. Just crazy," passenger Beth Willan told CNN. "There were babies on the plane. And we are in dark and hot. You try to be patient but people were yelling and screaming."
The airline's London office said the 300 passengers on Flight VS001 were being bused to Newark on Wednesday morning.
"Virgin Atlantic would like to thank passengers for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience cause," the airline said in a statement.

In this case Virgin escapes without penalty. Why? Because it isn't an American carrier.

Got any stranded on the tarmac stories to share?

Photo of grounded Virgin Atlantic plane by Jim Michaud of Journal Inquirer via AP

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