A new, separate Bill providing significant relief for air passengers from extended on-board delays was welcomed today by Kate Hanni, founder-president of the Coalition for Airline Passengers’ Rights, Health and Safety, formerly Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights (CAPBOR). The new Bill, H.R. 6355, was introduced in Congress on June 24 by Congressman James Oberstar, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Congressman Jerry Costello, chairman of the Aviation subcommittee.
“Despite frustrations inevitably encountered in the process, we are delighted that passengers’ rights are clearly now on the agenda of the House’s appropriate leadership,” Ms. Hanni said. “This Bill is intended to move passengers’ rights legislation along on its own merit, since similar passenger legislation was already passed by the House in the FAA Reauthorization Act, which has become stalled in the Senate,” she added.
H.R. 6355, the “Air Service Improvement Act of 2008,” requires air carriers and large and medium hub airports to file emergency contingency plans with the Secretary of Transportation for her review and approval. The Secretary may establish minimum standards for plans and require airlines to modify the plans they submit. These plans must detail how the air carrier will provide food, water, restroom facilities, ventilation, and necessary medical treatment for passengers on board an aircraft that is on the ground for an extended time period without terminal access. The Coalition had fought hard for plans that required Transportation Department approval, as opposed to the voluntary plans the DOT, favored.
Airlines that do not comply are subject to a $25,000 per day penalty. The Bill will also establish an Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection.
The Coalition strongly urges everyone to contact his/her representative in Congress and insist that they co-sponsor H.R. 6355 to end the repeated incidents of passengers being held aboard airliners for prolonged periods without adequate food, water, ventilation and sanitary facilities.
The Coalition has 23,100 people and claims successes as the New York Passengers’ Bill of Rights, 2 DOT Rulemakings; one doubled compensation for Denied Boarding and the correct reporting of Diversions and Cancellations when “Stranded” on the Tarmac.