Tuesday Jan. 29, 2008 @ 10:16 pm By

A few recent stories on the web point the some instances where the Airline Passengers Bill of Rights might be gaining traction & legitimacy at the State level as well as the Federal level. See elsewhere in this Blog for links and information on one of the bill of rights proposed CAPBOR as there are several proposals being considered by Congress and the Department of Transportation. But pundants believe all face “uphill battle against time, political gridlock and industry pressure” says an MSNBC report. That being said, New York put into effect their own Passenger Bill of Rights last year. After surviving a court challenge from the Air Transport Association (ATA), an industry trade group, last month, the bill became law on January 1.

An example of their rights is that whenever passengers are delayed on board a plane for more than 3 hours prior to takeoff, the airline must provide:

  • Electric generation service and temporary power for fresh air and lights
  • Waste removal service in order to service the holding tanks for on-board restrooms, and …
  • Adequate food, drinking water and other refreshments

Seems pretty reasonable, no? However, the media and web are ripe with examples (even this past year) where passengers went 7, 8, 9 hours (due to delays) on the tarmac with out these simple ‘amenities’. Unfortunately this states bill does not provide rights for us in situations where there is a delay upon landing as it does not address allowing passengers to disembark from stuck planes nor does it offer compensation for the inconvenience. It does, however, allow the state to fine airlines up to $1,000 per passenger for non-compliance to those rights that are in place and broken.

Nevertheless, it does get the ball rolling in the right direction as the prospect of dozens of individual state laws may actually prompt the federal government to take meaningful action. As a matter of fact, MSNBC states that similar efforts are underway in CA and AZ and that RI State Senator Leonidas Raptakis introduced a similar bill recently in his state, and that “31 of 38 senators signed on. Furthermore, he says, “I’ve been talking to colleagues in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota …””

California Assemblyman Mark Leno said it best when he talked about needing federal level – versus state level – legislation on this issue when he stated, ” We’ve all been stuck on a plane and thought, ‘There oughta be a law.’”

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