There is a lot of talk regarding a passenger bill of rights for airline passengers. Here are 6 items that should be included.
Passenger bill of rights item #1 – A time limit should be set with regards to how long airlines can hold passengers locked up in the aircraft on the runway.
If Congress is going to seriously consider a passenger bill of rights, they need to ensure that passengers can’t be locked up in the aircraft on the runway for an indefinite period of time. After the Jet Blue debacle a couple of weeks ago, Jet Blue quickly began creating its own passenger bill of rights. It is an admirable step towards regaining their reputation. However, if you read their passenger bill of rights, they want to limit the amount of time a plane can sit fully loaded on the runway to five hours. How is sitting five hours on the runway that much better than sitting for eight hours? If a universal passenger bill of rights is adopted, it should limit that amount of time to three hours.
Passenger bill of rights item #2 – Passengers should know when they could expect to receive their luggage if they are allowed to return to the gate.
Many times when passengers are finally let off of the airplane after sitting on the runway for hours, they then have to wait for their luggage for hours or even days. Sometimes their luggage is lost in the process. As a result, the passengers deserve to know when they can expect to receive their luggage once they de-plane after sitting on the runway for an extended period of time.
Passenger bill of rights item #3 – Passengers held on aircraft on the runways should be provided with drinks, food, restrooms, and medical treatment if necessary.
One of the worst aspects of having passengers trapped on an airplane for an extended period of time is that in most cases, airlines are simply not prepared. Passengers should have access to food, drinks, restrooms, and medical treatment if necessary while forced to stay on the airplane. During the incident in New York, the airplane lost power, did not have their restrooms serviced, and passengers had to wait over five hours for food and drinks. In fact, things became so miserable on the airplane that the crew had to open the door of the airplane in order to get some fresh air circulating throughout the cabin. Can you imagine if the same thing had happened on a flight leaving from Houston during the summer months?
Passenger bill of rights item #4 – Ample compensation should be given to passengers who are severely delayed.
Jet Blue is proposing to refund the money of passengers who are trapped on a flight for up to five hours, in addition to a free flight in the future. In fact, they have worked out an entire schedule of compensation for delays. It is a good start, but who wants to fly again, much less with the same airline, after such a horrific experience?
Passenger bill of rights item #5 – Airline managers need to provide more timely and accurate information to flight crews in an effort to provide passengers with timely and accurate information.
One of the most frustrating aspects of being a passenger trapped on an airplane on the runway is the complete apparent lack of information. Trying to obtain any information from the flight crew is next to impossible in most cases simply due to the fact that they might not know much more than you do. It is beyond aggravating to be treated like human cattle by airlines that apparently simply don’t care. That having been said, Jet Blue is correct in stating that it is largely due to the fault of management. Most pilots and flight crew you deal with are very nice people who will go out of their way in order to make you comfortable if they can. Unfortunately, most of the anger of disgruntled passengers is taken out on them.
Passenger bill of rights item #6 – Passengers have the right to de-plane after being held against their will for an extended period of time.
Currently, it is a felony to de-plane an airplane before you are told you can do so. This law was put in place after September 11th. Quite simply, this needs to change. After three hours of being held hostage by the airlines on the runway, you should have the right to leave.
With a little common sense, there will be no more horror stories of entire flights being held for several hours on a runway. Passengers currently have no rights while flying and are treated as human cattle by the airline industry. A passenger bill of rights needs to be put in place in order to even the playing field.