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2011'DOT Expanded Passenger Protection... still in effect??

california
posts: 1,038
reviews: 70
2011'DOT Expanded Passenger Protection... still in effect??

Hello TA's,

I was reading in the news about the flight from Allegiant which pasangers were stranded in the Tarmac for 4 hrs! without food or water...

What ever happen to this bill of rights from 2011?

dot.gov/briefing-room/us-department-transpor…

How can this be legal? letting these airlines treat people worse than animals... no food, no water, no A/C in high heat?

silly question, but I'm assuming the airline somehow would loose $$ if they would have decided to deplane these people??

Thanks!

Yesi

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 16,089
reviews: 5
1. Re: 2011'DOT Expanded Passenger Protection... still in effect??

Those DOT rules are in place and in many cases (particularly denied boarding and duty of care regarding delays) they are written into the airlines' contracts of carriage.

If Allegiant broke those rules then they would be liable to fines imposed by the DOT.

Edited: 11:08 pm, June 13, 2013
Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
posts: 46,265
reviews: 14
2. Re: 2011'DOT Expanded Passenger Protection... still in effect??

Not letting pax disembark during irrops is a bit of a tricky matter.

If pax disembark and a problem is repaired in a short time, the airline will have to reboard pax and go through the departure process again before pushback, which will increase time on the stand (blocking a parking gate) and increase total travel time, leading to the potential of even more missed connections. With pax on board, once a problem is repaired, departure can take place quickly or the plane can move to another area on the apron for repair, freeing up the stand for other ground movements. There may be no room in the terminal at the boarding gate for more pax either.

I suspect our GOPBI will know more of the ins and outs of this, but there are times when it's in the airline's best interest to have pax stay on board, as painful as it can be. Having said that, not offering water and soft drinks (other drinks may not be allowed to be served, by local law, until after departure) is very very poor form, and the DOT rules do hold in case of irrops.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 16,089
reviews: 5
3. Re: 2011'DOT Expanded Passenger Protection... still in effect??

Just read one of the news articles on this (it was the flight where the pax started singing "I Believe I Can Fly"), and cross checked it against FlightStats.

http://www.huffpost.com/us/entry/3417606

The flight's wheels up was 4hr39 behind schedule. But, the plane initially departed the gate and then returned due to a medical emergency with a passenger, then departed on different equipment only to be on the ground for several hours due to MX. So, quite possible (actually likely) that G4 did not violate the 4 hour tarmac delay rule vis a vis deplaning. But no water for two hours is a violation, and IMO a bad (and silly) one at that.

Edited: 12:24 am, June 14, 2013
London, United...
posts: 15,521
reviews: 23
4. Re: 2011'DOT Expanded Passenger Protection... still in effect??

Bit of a discrepancy in the story though. The flight crew says they did hand out water. The pax says they did not. I can't see why the pax would lie, I can see why the flight crew would.

Normally they keep people on the plane because there is a chance they might get to take off, so better usually to keep people on and get to go, than deboard, fix the problem. Miss the slot because you are re boarding everyone and then have to wait even longer. I guess it's a judgement call.

However no excuse for not handing out water and making food available. Not when talking about 4 hours in extreme heat.

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 13,682
reviews: 71
5. Re: 2011'DOT Expanded Passenger Protection... still in effect??

Hi,

Yes, the DOT rules area still I effect.. And as noted, many of the rules are now also contractually specified items as well..

However..... As it is with many aspects of air travel, they are not always 100% "clear cut" in terms of what does or does meet the standards and there are some subjective and noteable exceptions.

As example only, the DOT rules do not explicitly state what does and does not meet the standards for provisioning of food and/drink onboard.. Therefore, unless or until the DOT issues more definitive rulings on this, it can be debated what exactly meets this standard.. Carriers tend to provision items that have either low cost and/or are low "carry" costs..

For the "drink" side, that tends to be water or whatever beverages are provisioned as a standard matter... On the "food" side, they tend to focus on items that are shelf-stable and have longer "hold" times.. Granola bars, chips, nuts, or the like tends to be common items.

As for the deplaning.. There is one large caveat.. As is the case with most all apse at of aircraft movement, the final decision as to the question of "is it safe to do so?" is delegated, by law, to the Captain or acting Pilot In Command (PIC).

The DOT rules do not and cannot override or usurp the discretion of the Captain or PIC in this aspect.. If s/he feels it is unsafe to do so, then that specific aspect of the rules are waived.. But that's only for that one part...

The issue of what happens if you deplane..... What about reboarding?

This is a part of the rules that (IMHO) should have been better thought out or guidance given.. The DOT rules do *not* require a carrier to wait for, to take or to make any specific actions to identify and reboarding passengers who in invoke their DOT rights to deplane..

Therefore, until or unless there is either a percent setting judicial ruling (that remains after any appeals) or the DOT gives more guidance, the carrier does not need to wait or to take any specific steps to find, wait for or otherwise get everyone back onboard.

While common sense and logistical issues says you do what you need to do to get everyone back onboard, IF you can't or can't do so timely (ie you finally have a takeoff slot assigned or the crew will "timeout" so leaving promptly is critical) the carriers are presently free to go with or without you and if you're left behind the denied boarding rules would not apply (you boarded initially and the flight number did not change) and the carrier would have no obligation, other than traditional rebooking processes, to you at that point.

The DOT rules in this respect are rather new, and aside from a handful or so of cases of violations of the holding time, we've not yet seen any large scale test of some of these issues - like exactly what does or does not meet the food and drink rules? And what happens if you deplane and don't reboarding?

To be fair to the DOt, I don't think its possible or advisable to write law into the smallest minutia, but.... I also think that better or more encompassing guidance might have been helpful so all parties invokved have an Idea of what is or is not the "intent" of the relevant statue; and therefore what might or might not be an acceptable solution when all relevant variables are taken into account.

Travel Safe,

Edited: 9:45 am, June 14, 2013
california
posts: 1,038
reviews: 70
6. Re: 2011'DOT Expanded Passenger Protection... still in effect??

Thank you USbusinesstraveller, businessplus, froggyEngland and GOPBI!

it seams to me that the rules are pretty fair, however there are loopholes and this is what might be used as an "excuse" (for lack of a better word) so they don't have to go through the trouble of deplaning.

I wonder if these people didn't know they could deplane and exercise their right, or if they just chose not to?

What is more bothersome, is the lack of care from the crew on board & all those involved who could have given water and snacks or whatever to these people.

I've never been stuck in the tarmac but not that long (knock on wood!) :) for a couple of hours on AA and (although not my favorite airline) they handled it like pros! this was at CDG when one of the engines didn't turn on or stopped working...

The captain came on the intercom a few hrs later and said, and I quote (I'll never forget this!) "...it seems that the problem miraculously fixed itself"

OMG, being scared of flying in the first place, you can imagine all my thoughts! (some people where actually allowed to deplane and catch another flight)

why didn't I deplane being so scared: part of my luggage was 6 bottles of amazing French Wine :) no way was I going to risk that getting to LAX before me!

The captain came personally and talk to me said his choice of words were probably not the best, but that he would not fly the plane if he didn't think it was safe, etc, etc... very good job done by AA, the crew & captain.

I think in the end... even if you cannot deplane, it was the attitude (lack of care) of Allegiant that made pasangers so angry.

Thanks again!

ps: what to do in this situation? If I choose to deplane, do they "have" to re-schedule me or am i out of my $$?

Or, if I choose to stay... how to ensure you get at least water, etc?

Edited: 11:53 am, June 14, 2013
california
posts: 1,038
reviews: 70
7. Re: 2011'DOT Expanded Passenger Protection... still in effect??

sorry... correction:

I meant: I've never been stuck in the tarmac that long... but I have been for a couple of hrs on an AA flight ...

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 13,682
reviews: 71
8. Re: 2011'DOT Expanded Passenger Protection... still in effect??

Hi,

There are loopholes as you call them related to deplaning... However.. I think that if we take a step back, I think its a net better move to continue to allow (and also hold accountable) the designated Captain or PIC to be the final artibrator over matters that pertain to safety of the aircraft and its associated movement. The alternative is taking that aspect of safety away from the Captain or PIC and now making it a requirement period regardless of what the trained professional who is also "on site" thinks is the safest course of action.

"ps: what to do in this situation? If I choose to deplane, do they "have" to re-schedule me or am i out of my $$?"

==> The law here is not crystal clear, however I think it is a fair expectation that, should you fail to reboard for whatever reason, that the carrier will treat you like a missed-connection...

Meaning that they will re-book you on the next flight with space on it, and with no additional charge.. But again, the law here, in this *specific* situation isn't clearly outlined and I do not recall its come up either a precedent setting judicial matter or as a carriers directive from the DOT itself. So... It's possible a carrier can, would or even could, take a different position as to your rebooking/travel status.

"Or, if I choose to stay... how to ensure you get at least water, etc?"

==> Again, coming back to the law, the law essentially says a carrier must offer or make available X,Y,Z.. And again, based on practicalities and realities of a cabin environment (where this aspect of the law is most likely to occur) the odds-on bet is that the crew will either offer it via a cabin-wide PA announcement or (most likely) a cabin walk-thru offering whatever is being furnished.

I suspect a carrier would do the latter as its just logistically and man-power wise easier to do a one-time cabin walk-thru, row-by-row, and its also easier then to make a credible statement of "we offered" X,Y and Z to each passenger.

Travel Safe,

Edited: 12:32 pm, June 14, 2013
9. Re: 2011'DOT Expanded Passenger Protection... still in effect??

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