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New York’s Passenger Bill of Rights is Law

Bill of RightsThe Passenger Bill of Rights, which has been a hot topic in the travel industry for the last year is now official in the State of New York. The bill was challenged by the major airlines operating in the United States earlier this week, but Judge Kahn held strong.

The District Court Justice maintained that “It threatens the public health to contain people on grounded airplanes for hours without these necessities.” The press release included a statement from Kate Hanni, who attended the court hearing who asserted, “Clearly the airlines have a callous disregard for the needs of airline passengers during long tarmac delays. It’s incredible that we need a federal court to ensure that their essential needs are met.” I find that hard to believe. I’m pretty sure the airlines do want your repeat business. How else are they going to stay in business. As I mentioned when this issue first came up, many airlines do have internal policies in place mandating the very things the law requires them to provide. I think the incidents with JetBlue and American last winter were the exception, not the rule. I have been delayed on aircraft numerous times throughout my time as a traveler, and I don’t remember ever feeling that my needs were not met. Personally, I believe the airlines should stay at the gate if they know they’ll be delayed, providing passengers access to the terminal if they so choose. However, I don’t think this is always an option.

I, personally, think this should be addressed at the federal level. The airlines operating in the United States do have an obligation to meet the basic needs of their passengers, but I don’t see how it is necessary for a court to make that decision. Will that bill apply to passengers who are stuck on the subway or in a bus in traffic as well? I do have to admit I may just have this opinion because I’ve never had the pleasure of sitting on the tarmac for 6 hours or more.

Whadda ya get with this new bill? You get fresh air, water, food and bathroom access. What are they going to do about fresh air? Open the door? Sounds scary to me. I can’t imagine NOT having drink and restroom access for that long of a time. I have to question the airline staff on those particular flights who denied passengers those things, as I have had access to both on delayed flights in the past.

Who is behind all this? The Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights (CAPBOR). CAPBOR is the only non-profit consumer group for airline passengers in the U.S. You have them to thank for your fresh air in New York. If this bill passes in Newark, where will they get the fresh air? Will they have to import it from someplace else?

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