Once again an airline has proved that the industry can’t be trusted to follow its own guidelines about holding passengers on planes on the runway. This time it was American Airlines leaving a jet with 200 passengers aboard on the tarmac in Midland, Texas, for eight hours. Next time, who knows?
The airlines know this is unacceptable to their customers, but some of them keep letting it happen. That’s why it ought to be illegal.
There are separate bills in the House and Senate to limit the amount of time that passengers may be held on an aircraft on the ground, and to require the airlines to provide them with food, water and basic necessities while they are held.
Here’s the industry’s stand, according to USA Today:
An isolated incident such as the one in Midland should not be used to justify broad new regulations about delayed flights, says David Castelvetter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, which represents large airlines. "By all accounts, American handled it well, given the severe weather conditions," Castelvetter says.
An isolated incident? Oh, please. There have been several such incidents in the past couple of months. Severe weather conditions? The flight was diverted because of thunderstorms – in Dallas, 300 miles away.
By all accounts, American handled it well? Here was one passenger’s account, also from USA Today:
"I feel like I was hijacked or kidnapped because I couldn’t get off the plane," says Dixie Lee Belmont, 65, of Sun City, Ariz. "You don’t treat people like that."
No, no you don’t.