US Government to Passengers: You Can Rot on the Runway for All We Care

From the government that has already proudly discarded 800 years of habeas corpus:  The US Department of Transportation issued a pathetic report that found several airlines (Delta and US Airways included) have no formal policies about allowing passengers off planes in the event of a delay on the tarmac, meaning that their policy is to imprison you for hours on end without food, water or explanation.  The pathetic part is that the DoT refuses to recommend a time limit, saying that they’ll leave it up to the industry (which has done such an AMAZING job at figuring this out themselves so far) to figure it out themselves. 

And in case you thought that the worst of the Guan-tarmac-o Bay imprisonments ended with the JetBlue fiasco in February, you’d be sadly mistaken.  In June, 462 (462!!) flights were stuck on the tarmac for 3 or more hours.  And even better – these figures don’t count diverted or canceled flights.  500 flights stranded for more than 3 hours in ONE MONTH, and the DoT has told them that they’re certain the industry, which doesn’t even acknowledge that this is a problem (hey, once we leave the gate we can’t lose our takeoff slot) can fix this themselves.  This same industry that said they’d fix it after the February JetBlue meltdown.  Yeah right!

I’m not exactly calling for insurrections, but the government won’t fix it and the airlines won’t fix it – it’s up to passengers stuck on the runway for hours to invoke their right to habeas corpus – either give me a legitimate reason why I’m stuck here, or let me off this plane.  Ring the flight attendant button.  Ask questions.   Call the airline’s headquarters and ask to speak to flight operations (they won’t put you through, but they’ll put you through to someone…and you’ll make your point.)  It’s enough already.  As I’ve said before:  the fact that these companies think that keeping you in a cramped area (31" pitch, my ass) with screaming babies with no idea when you’re leaving and no access to food is an acceptable way (let alone legally acceptable way) of treating people is the biggest issue.  Enough is enough.


  1. Hi, Jared,
    Great post.
    We’ve quoted it and linked back at the Budget Travel blog.

  2. Thanks much, Sean!


    clearly the only way to get congress to act is to remind them what happens when you strand passengers on the tarmac for 3+ hours: sweet love.

  4. If global warming hadn’t caused all of this bad weather, we’d never have such an issue.

    …….I don’t think I’ve ever used global warming and issue in the same sentence!