Press Statement

For Immediate Release Contact: Gil Meneses – 202-445.1570

Coalition for Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights Applauds Senator Boxer and Congressman Thompson for Standing Up For Airline Passengers Rights

Coalition Reacts to jetBlue’s Customer Bill of Rights Napa Valley, CA. (February 20, 2007) – The Coalition for Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights issued the following statement from its spokesperson, Kate Hanni, on news that Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Mike Thompson of California will both sponsor Airline Passengers Bill of Rights legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively. The Coalition also reacts to jetBlue’s proposed announcement of a “Customer Bill of Rights”.

“On behalf of the Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights Coalition, we applaud Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Mike Thompson of California for their strong leadership and interest in protecting the flying public. Being stranded for more than eight hours in an aircraft with no food or running water is a horrific ordeal for anyone to endure, let alone for young and elderly passengers and those with medical conditions.

While we certainly encourage jetBlue and other airline carriers to make much-needed reforms aimed at improving customer service, including their pledge to limit stranded passengers from being stuck on an airport tarmac for more than five hours, it is evident from our December 29th experience in Austin and most recently at JFK airport that airlines are not willing to police themselves to ensure that similar incidents are not repeated. This was the very reason that led to the formation of our coalition.

For the last eight years and longer, the airlines have had the opportunity to make good on their promises to improve customer service and ensure basic rights for passengers, and over and over again, they have failed. Enough is enough. It is clear that the only thing that will ensure change is government action.

We encourage Senator Boxer and Congressman Thompson’s efforts and look forward to working with them and Congressman Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation Committee and other members of Congress to ensure the introduction and passage of a comprehensive, enforceable Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights that would modernize and improve airline industry standards for customer service.” The Coalition will be reaching out to the stranded passengers at Kennedy Airport to join its cause and fully support the fight for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights in Congress.

The coalition continues to gather momentum and support from public officials, national organizations and the flying public. Through a number of recent visits to Capitol Hill, members of the coalition have met with a number of Members of Congress and will continue to visit Washington, D.C. until an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights is enacted.

28 comments on “Press Statement

  • Also, I agree that 3 hours is too long. Passengers should be on the tarmac for a maximum of 2 hours. I really hope that drops down to 2 hours.

    Thanks again for doing this. You are doing an “Eric Brokovich”. Keep it up!

    Sheila

  • Thank you so much for taking charge and spearheading the effort for passengers’ rights. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Sheila

  • I’d like to add one more area to the passengers bill of rights. I’ve flown United twice in many years of flying, and both times have been abandoned by United employees.

    I’d like to require that an airline employee authorized to make travel accomodations for passengers be present until every single passenger is accomodated in the event of a diversion. This provision enforcable by heavy fines for the airline as well as possible jail time for a manager who withdraws all employees from the location of the diverted aircraft.

    Secondly, make it illegal to move the aircraft from the location of a diversion until every single passenger has been accomodated. Punishable by impoundment of the aircraft.

  • This effort is well overdue, ans someone who worked for Eastern Airlines many years ago, the degree of concern for passeger comfort has never been a priority.
    I personally travel quite extensively and can fill a book with horror stories regarding blatent negligence on behalf of various airlines when it comes to delays, including a stayover night at LGW thanks to United. LGW is not a passenger friendly airport.

  • When the same thing happened to passengers on a British Airways flight, the Germans called the police and told them they were being falsely imprisoned. The police came onboard to mediate and those with carry on luggage were allowed to leave. In every state of the union false imprisonment and taking hostages are against the law. I don’t see how opening the door and leaving could be considered interfering with the operation of the airline since it’s not operating while parked for nine hours.

    Criminals in federal prisons for murder get water, food and toilets and if they don’t, they have laws protecting them from inhumane treatment. Those passengers who were taken hostage were treated worse than criminals. It looked a lot like the Soviet Gulag trains to me.

    Passengers should have the same rights as criminals and all victims of false imprisonment…they already have protection under the law in every state of the union. Why should airlines be exempt from immediate police intervention?

  • I am a professional woman – a million miler on two airlines – my job was a national one that required weekly travel. I have retired from my career, primarily because of my experiences with air travel. The incompetence, and the absolute disregard of their passenger’s comfort and right to know the facts of any situation that causes delays and inconvenience became too much for my patience. I ran a business and could never have succeeded with the attitude that the airlines exhibit daily.
    Thank you so much for your efforts. It is amazing that we have allowed the airlines to claim the ability to police themselves for so frustratingly long.
    How can I help?

  • I travel well over 100,000 miles every year. I think this Passenger’s Bill of Rights is a good thing, but Jet Blue has gone too far. Yes, my time is money and sitting in an aluminum tube on some piece of concrete is not allowing me to earn any.

    I have been delayed, diverted, re-routed on other carriers, and even have had several emergency landings. Yes, the foam on the ground, fire trucks, and everything. There is only so much that can be done to correct a situation. We all must be rational and reasonable about what measures are required to compensate us.

    What Jet Blue did was wrong. Not just on 14 Feb, but for a week after that. FAA should fine Jet Blue and they should pay passengers who were delayed by days but not those only delayed by a few hours.

    A part of the over all solution must be the FAA fining airlines big and small for stranding passengers, mishandling luggage, and for general lack of trainging/judgement of flight operation decision makers.

    I am far more upset when my flight must land to take on more fuel because somebody did not make the proper calculations to make it to my destination than when I am forced to sit on a DFW runway for an hour or so because of storms. The FAA then needs to use the fines to improve the system that is causing many of the delays in the first place.

    I know this is too much to ask for, but I would like to see these fines paid for out of the CEO’s bonuses and not increaed ticket prices.

    And to the poster who said this is not rocket science…It is close to it. This is a merger of human, machines, material, and information; all must be in the right place at the right time without even a millisecond or millimeter room for error.

    Keep in mind it takes about 15 min to get everyone off an MD 80 and about 20 min to get everyone on. How upset would you be to just get off and then have to turn right around and board again? I know I would be upset. And to those who think I work for an airline…No I don’t, I just cared enough to find out why the system works (or doesn’t work) the way it does.

  • One important right in the bill of rights is missed, we should never have a pilot or flight attendant on duty for more then 10 hours. This could compromise our safety as passengers.

  • Thank you everybody who is pushing this initiative.

    Most experienced travelers understand that some of these delays are unavoidable. What is truly frustrating, and the reason we need legislation, is that the airlines DO NOT CARE if passengers are mistreated.

    Passengers generally understand that weather delays will happen, but we expect decent call service centers to help us on our way, decent communication and being treated as a person, instead of an object would go a long way.

  • One more comments althhough it might already be in your BLOG. When airlines cancel flights, like they did to you, they should not be able to hold your luggage hostage. My niece flew through Chicago and, due to a delay, missed her connection. We went to pick her up as we live in Chicago and American would not give her back her checked bags saying that they were in a secure area and could not be returned. This is ridiculous – what if there was something critical in your bags – like meds.

    I could not believe that we could not get her luggage back – and to top it off – they were quite rude in their response.

    Good luck and thanks for what you are doing

  • The only thing I really support on this petition is the goal of keeping the airlines from holding us hostage on an aircraft and not meeting basic needs. Everything else, I have to trust in the system of free enterprise and go to the carrier that takes the best care of me. But I don’t want to be on the tarmac past 3 hours even ONCE on an airplane. Remove all the other items from this petition, and I’m in–otherwise if this passes as is, expect higher prices to compensate for everything that the airlines will have to deliver. There are those that might be willing to accept higher prices, but there are those that can’t afford it. And to anonymous, it is as difficult as rocket science–ask an ATC. Three hours is a good threshold.

  • Passengers’ Bill of Rights are the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Who is going to administer it. What is fair to me may not be fair to you. Quit whining. It is still faster than driving.

  • Shouldn’t airports be required to purchase vehicles that can unload passengers, ferry food and toilet facilities to stranded airplanes?

    Airports have too many flights, too few gates and too few landing strips for the traffic. When the weather turns bad and/or planes on the ground are stalled, the airport should be the central facility to service the planes and passengers it can’t move.

  • You hit the nail on the head. The fact that it took so many disastrous repeats before the airlines recognized a problem shows how little they care. Even in the wake of all this publicity,they couldn’t pull it together.

    Jet Blue responded during today’s interview by saying that many of the procedures are already in place. If they were already in place, then another airline’s initiated Bill of Rights won’t accomplish anything. We need a Bill of Rights by the people… for the people.

  • You hit the nail on the head. The fact that it took so many disastrous repeats before the airlines even attempted damage control shows how little they take this issue seriously.

    Also, the fact that Jet Blue can go on air and say they already have most of these procedures in place only further shows that they aren’t capable of policing themselves. We need a bill of rights for the people… by the people.

  • If someone had a stroke on the tarmaced plane, I’m sure that the authorities would quickly find a way to get them to a hospital. So the issue isn’t if it can be done, the issue is that the airlines operate for their own convenience not for their passerngers. I recently had an inter-island flight cancelled in Hawaii. I was transferred to another airline and was then held in the waiting area for four hours. Every twenty minutes we were told that the plane would arrive in ten minutes and that we shouldn’t leave the area unless we wanted to miss the flight. If we hadn’t had a pre-paid hotel room waiting on the next island, we would have left the airport in disgust.

  • This is an idea whose time has not only come but is long overdue. Over the years I have witnessed mistreatment of passengers (not only “able” passengers but disabled and primarily elderly passengers)at the boarding gate and on the airplane. I have not spoken up during these times only because I am simply confused and conflicted: some of the employees involved have been so hostile and intimidating I feared speaking up would result in a trip to jail or at the very least, being denied boarding access, and since I am either traveling with a disabled older brother or two or three kids my concern was primarally being separated from them or causing them extreme stress. This worry has mushroomed into the fear of becoming claustrophbic or irrational on an airplane, to the point where I didn’t visit my Mother (or my kids their Grandmother) the last two years of her life. My Mother hadn’t flown in almost seven years; she was afraid her age related issues would either not be accomadated or completely ignored. That situation still causes me and my family considerable pain.
    Air travel is not a “new wonder” nor do I take it for granted, but it is definately time travelers are no longer taken for granted and their pocketbooks taken for the ride.
    Sonia Harvey & Family

  • Actually, I think the Boxer bill is well-intentioned but unlikely to get results. “Striving” to return baggage in 24 hours? Doubtful. And too complex = loopholes.

    I think the solution should be more along the lines of a flat tax:

    The airline will pay each passenger $1 for each minute that:
    1) Exceeds 180 minutes from pushback until take-off;
    2) Exceeds 60 minutes from touchdown to door open at the gate; or
    3) There is not a working bathroom on the plane.

    Very simple. No loopholes. The clock stops and starts at specific times. No “we’re claiming it’s a weather delay so we don’t have to compensate you, even though you can see mechanics fixing the plane.” And let the financial penalties force the airlines to act properly.

  • After one hour sitting on the ground, inform the pilot that in another hour, you and your fellow passengers will be using the emergency slide to leave his/her plane unless you are either airborne or returned to the gate.

    Then follow through. After that second hour has elapsed, simply open one of the main cabin doors, pop the slide and walk to the terminal. Once inside, Call the Airline president to announce your dissatisfaction, rent a car and find a better-run airline.

  • I signed this bill because American Airlines rejected to take our dog back on 8/07 while my family and I were coming back for a trip from Cali Colombia; they asked us to leave our dog in the airport by itself otherwise we couldn’t take their aircraft; We lost our tickeks that were bought 6 months a head; also they cancelled out connections in USA; they refused to refound us; I believe that our dog is part of our family.
    Bernardo Sadovnik. bsadovnik@comcast.net

  • It isn’t just the weather that passengers have to put up with. United and USAirways both have made major changes in our flights booked and paid for 7/06 and we were never notified. Initially we had 3 hours to change United planes; now, less than an hour due to their schedule changes. We are 75 years old and are worried. USAirways/America West cancelled our return first flight,and never told us. So, we scrounged for a flight home having to go West to travel East and that is an overnight flight now, and another day for us. THEY COULD CARE LESS. COMMUNICATION IS TERRIBLE. GETTING A REFUND AT A LATE DATE IS NOT THE ISSUE, THE ISSUE IS AGAIN BEING NOTIFIED PROMPTLY OF CHANGES and if they can’t replace with like product a refund in full. THEY DO AS THEY DARN PLEASE. THEY COULD CARE LESS IF WE MISS A NON-STOP FLIGHT TO HONG KONG AND LOSE A DAY OR TWO–AND MAYBE OUR CRUISE. IT ISN’T FUN ANYMORE TO FLY! THEY ARE OUT OF CONTROL!!

  • The “Airline Passenger’s Bill of Rights” is too little, too late. It should have been done years ago — after the “9/11 Security Impact” hit the airlines. It was bad enough before that, but since that time, “significant airline travel disruptions” (mostly due to “weather”) have gone from once every couple of months or so, to once every two weeks — or even EVERY WEEK for some of us “Road Warriors” who travel every week.

    I’m a VERY outspoken advocate of federal funding for the development of high-speed rail passenger service — NOT like the Amtrak Acela, but like the TGV “Bullet Trains” that Europe and Japan have had for almost 40 years. We are the “Technology Leaders of the World”. WHERE ARE OUR “BULLET TRAINS”? Making such a service competitive with the airlines would “level the transportation infrastructure” and give airline passengers a reliable alternative to flying. The 180+ MPH inter-city, interstate rail passenger service would also be time-competitive with airlines, not having the overhead of check-in lines, security lines, gate waits, runway waits, “weather” disruptions/delays, and “stack time” over crowded airports.

    Please see my blog posting at http://www.ittoolbox.com/profiles/shorter1/journal-entry/567#comm.

  • The Coalition should start a fundraising campaign for the purpose of running TV and print ads.

    The Airline Transport Association, along with the pilot groups, will almost certainly, fight passenger rights legislation tooth and nail.

    Monitors, from the Consumer Division of the US Dept. of Transportation, should be stationed at 20 of the largest airports in the country. Any passenger rights legislation should provide the funds to hire monitors. Airline staff will be on better behavior if they know they may need to justify their statements and actions to a government agent!

  • Perfect wording on your suggested “bill”, but 3 hours is too long. One hour sitting on tarmac should be the max. Passengers should have the right to be deplaned when the time hits one hour, IMO.
    But, great job anyway..very well worded.
    G.

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