Los Angeles International Airport control tower
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Will The 3-Hour Tarmac Delay Rule Be Suspended? Say NO!

The Department of Transportation in the United States is currently reviewing a motion filed by two airline industry associations which are requesting a moratorium on a rule first imposed in 2009 pertaining to protecting passengers from being confined in an airplane on the tarmac for greater than three hours during a delay.

Will The 3-Hour Tarmac Delay Rule Be Suspended? Say NO!

The request — received on April 19 from Airlines for America and the Regional Airline Association — references as the main reason the furloughs of air traffic controllers and other government employees ordered by the Federal Aviation Administration, which has increased delays at airports throughout the United States.

The rule in question prohibits airlines based in the United States operating domestic flights from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without deplaning passengers, with exceptions allowed only for safety or security or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations. Furthermore, those airlines are required to provide adequate food and potable drinking water for passengers within two hours of the aircraft being delayed on the tarmac and to maintain operable lavatories and, if necessary, provide medical attention…

…and now the airlines want a moratorium on this rule designed specifically to protect you?

Get real.

This is the latest salvo against you — the airline passenger — in what has become a puerile propensity of perpetually pushing and perpetrating political plans, punishing and penalizing pawns like puppets in the process.

I can understand the position of the airlines: why should the federal government of the United States impose a fine upon them for something that is not within their control and in fact is because of said federal government?…

…but what does that have to do with you? This situation is not your fault. Why should you be forced to suffer?!?

Think about it: the airlines — for the most part — are already chipping away at your benefits and your comfort while charging you more money. Now they want to take away your rights as a consumer as well?

The airlines have supposedly already requested exemptions from this rule in the past — but with no success. The president of the Air Travelers Association in 2010 attempted to argue that the rule would only strand more passengers — but the number of airplanes delayed on the tarmac for greater than three hours dropped from 268 in 2009 to only three as of August of 2010, even though the rule may have increased flight cancellations.


FlyerTalk members are already being affected by delays. Do you really want to sit in an airplane out on the tarmac for greater than three hours during those delays?

Refuse to be a pawn. Fight back. Ensure that your voice is heard. You have until April 26, 2013 to comment on this request to the federal government of the United States.

Tell them NO on the temporary exemption from C.F.R. § 259.4 — now.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

  1. Oh, please. Relax. This is just simple posturing on behalf of the airlines because of the FAA’s (and the rest of the federal government’s) inability to manage what the rest of us do every day – manage a budget. This is a simple attempt, that I laud, to apply pressure on the FAA to keep staffing at appropriate levels. The message is simple: How can the government hold us accountable for long delays when it is the government that is causing many of them? Relax. This is not a “salvo against you” – it is against the silliness at the FAA.

  2. A very well written an factual essay. While there are indeed ground holds as a result of Congress’ failure to fund the government, it is the airlines choice as to when to push back from the gate. Airlines can choose to wait out part of the delays at the gate, but they opt not to do so. Airlines can also choose to store each aircraft with reserve drinking water and food, but they opt not to do so. Airlines can choose to limit the frequencies of flights, operating larger aircraft, so as to not make the skies so busy, requiring heavier FAA staffing than would otherwise be required. But they choose not do so.
    This is not a “salvo against you,” it is the airlines’ salvo against reasonable regulations and self responsibility.

  3. Exactly. I mean, let’s compare how things are done by two different airlines on two routes of comparable distance (+-100 miles).
    UA flies LAX-EWR 13x a day with a mix of A320/B737/B757.
    SQ flies PVG-SIN 5x a day with B77Ws.
    Which way of doing things do you think is easier on the ATC system? It wouldn’t be too hard for UA to switch to the SQ way of doing things to ease tension on an overcrowded ATC system, but they don’t. It’s like they want to increase the pain on the passenger too.

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