Passengers on an American Airlines flight that was stuck on the tarmac in Austin for nearly 10 hours last month are pushing for a national Passengers Bill of Rights to protect traveling consumers. The proposal would require airlines to return passengers to terminal gates after three hours on the tarmac. It would also impose penalties on airlines for losing baggage and bumping passengers, and create a consumer committee to review and investigate complaints. The measure doesn't yet have a backer in Congress.Where are ya, Nancy?
"Enough is enough," said Kate Hanni, a Napa, Calif., resident who was stuck with her husband on American Flight 1348 in Austin for nearly 10 hours Dec. 29 during a trip from San Francisco to Mobile, Ala. Her flight was supposed to land at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport for a connection, but heavy thunderstorms diverted the plane to Austin. "Never again should anyone be left in a plane without information, without food, with toxic air, overflowing toilets, no remuneration and no explanation," she said.Amen.
"The thunderstorm event of Dec. 29, 2006, that spread almost the entire length of Texas was one of the most unusual weather circumstances we've seen in 20 years," said Tim Wagner, a spokesman. More than 80 flights were diverted from DFW that day.What bullshit. No one is begging to be flown from Austin to DFW in a thunderstorm. They are begging for the plane to be driven 500 feet to let people out of that foul fuselage.
Stories of the long delays have been featured in national news media, including The Wall Street Journal and NBC Nightly News, in recent weeks. Passengers say they ran out of food, toilets overflowed and some lacked access to medication while stranded on the tarmac. "I was fighting off a panic attack the entire time," said Mark Vail of Madera, Calif. "I was counting raindrops in the window, doing anything to try to distract myself."I don't know what the penalty is for walking past the flight attendant, blowing the door and sliding down the chute to freedom, but I'll gladly stand before a jury of my peers and take my medicine rather than sit a prisoner of a service that I've paid for.