Weekend poll: Do we really need a new tarmac-delay law?

Congress is in the final throes of negotiating the FAA Reauthorization Bill. Part of the proposed law contains several controversial consumer provisions. One of the most debated concerns is whether to make the current Department of Transportation (DOT) regulation that limits an airplane’s time on the runway to a maximum of three-hours a law that can only be changed by Congress.

Some congressmen and advocates like the new DOT regulations so much that they want to make the current rules the law of the land. That would make it almost impossible to change.

The DOT regulations have been in effect for about a year and they have effectively eliminated tarmac delays, according to many experts. Part of the newest rulemaking from DOT also includes an increase in the data collection about tarmac delays so that the effects of the new regulations can be studied further.

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Airlines are collecting data so that they can figure out how to deal more effectively with the current DOT regulations that say planes must return to the terminal after three hours — no excuses — backed up with million dollar fines.

Airlines have claimed that the current rules are forcing them to cancel flights that would have otherwise been flown. The biggest reason? After three hours on the runway is that the crew times out, meaning that new pilots and flight attendants must be found to allow the flight to continue.

Airline analysts have entered the fray with statistics that show the vast majority of passengers would rather “wait it out” on the runway (with toilet facilities, water and limited provisions) in hopes of getting to their destination.

What do you think?

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