A view from fly-over country

 
 

by Terry Trippler

 

Terry recommends:

 

April 06, 2010

 

On April 29, Department of Transportation (DOT) rules take effect requiring that after three hours on the tarmac an airline must allow you to deplane – and if they don’t – the airline is subject to a fine of up to $27,500 per person!  I think the maximum fine is rather extreme – actually it is obscene.  Of course the re-regulation crusaders are quick to tell me … “this is just the maximum, we doubt if any fine will ever go that high”.  Then why is it there?  Talk about killing flies with a shotgun!

 

Who gets the money?  Not you!

When you are bumped from an oversold flight, DOT rules dictate that you receive up to twice the price of your ticket (maximum $800.00) in compensation.  However, if you sit on a tarmac for over three hours, the government gets compensated and you the one who goes through the ordeal – get nothing!

 

It could go something like this

 

  • You board the plane.
  • The door shuts and the plane starts to back out – the three-hour clock starts now!
  • The airport is backed up – rain – fog – mist – long delays.
  • As the tarmac wait approaches two (2) hours – your crew starts to make plans to return to the gate, unless the pilot believes it is not safe, or air traffic control says a return would interfere with airport traffic.
  • The pilot returns to the gate – well aware that if the cabin door is not opened at the gate within 3 hours – the airline is subject to a fine.  There is no grace period!  The pilot may be willing to “bet the rent” that the plane will be able to take off in 30 minutes but he/she can’t take that risk.  You return to the gate. 
  • Cabin door opens – the three-hour clock stops!
  • Those who want to get off do so.  The crew begins to make plans to once again depart the gate and get in line on the tarmac.  The plane may need to be re-catered, refueled, or even re-serviced, plus the airline will need to locate the baggage of those who decided to deplane – so this may take some time. 

 

Other factors now come in to play

 

  • The weather isn’t any better – and the tarmac delays are still very long.  The airline tries to determine that if the plane departs the gate again will it be airborne within the three-hour tarmac rule.  The airline decides not to take the chance – your flight is canceled!
  • Crew time is getting short – if the crew times out – can they get a replacement crew?  Airlines don’t have crews in every city and if one has to be flown in – this further adds to the delay (the weather is just as bad for inbound flights as those trying to get airborne).  No crew = your flight is cancelled!
  • You miss your meeting, family event, cruise, or just getting home!

 

The airline can’t get you out until tomorrow morning so you will have to overnight.  What amenities will your airline provide? 

 

In our scenario there could be three reasons why your flight was canceled …

 

    1. Weather – that’s why airport traffic is backed up in the first place
    2. Shortage of Labor – no spare crew available
    3. Governmental Regulation – it was a government regulation that forced your plane back to the gate

 

Open you wallet because this trip is about to get expensive – or your back will take the abuse as you try to sleep in the airport.  What are the airlines required to do for you?  A check of their Contract of Carriage may surprise many

 

 

 

AirTran Airways – FL

 

AirTran will not provide or reimburse passengers for expenses incurred due to delays or cancellations of flights.

 

AirTran Airways Contract of Carriage - Page 15 - Paragraph E

 

 

Allegiant Air – G4

 

Carrier shall not be liable for any failure or delay in operating any flight due to causes beyond carrier’s control, including but not limited to … governmental actionsweather Air Traffic Control

 

Allegiant Air Contract of Carriage - Rule 85

 

Alaska Airlines – AS

 

Alaska Airlines may, in the event of a “force majeure event” without notice, cancel, terminate, divert, postpone, or delay any flight … and determine if any

 

landing should be made, without any liability except to refund in original form of payment.

 

As used in this rule “force majeure event” means … meteorological conditions … any government regulation … any shortage of labor

 

Alaska Airlines Contract of Carriage - Rule 240 - Paragraph I

 

American Airlines – AA

 

American Airlines may, in the event of a “force majeure event” without notice, cancel, terminate, divert, postpone or delay any flight … without liability except to issue a … refund …

 “ force majeure event” means … any condition beyond American Airline’s control including … meteorological conditions … any government regulation … any shortage of labor…

American Airlines Contract of Carriage

 

Continental Airlines – CO

 

In the event of a force majeure event, Continental Airlines without notice, may cancel, terminate, divert, postpone, or delay any flight … and determine if any departure or landing should be made, without any liability except to … refund any unused portions of the ticket in the form of a travel certificate. 

 

force majeure event … is … any condition beyond Continental Airlines’ control including, but not limited to, meteorological conditions … any governmental regulation … any shortage of labor …

 

Continental Airlines Contract of Carriage - Rule 24 - Paragraph B & D

 

 

Delta Air Lines – DL

 

In the event of a “force majeure event” Delta may cancel, divert, or delay any flight without any liability except to refund your ticket in the original form of payment …

 

As used in this rule, “force majeure event” means … weather conditions government regulation shortages of labor

 

Delta Air Lines Contract of Carriage - Rule 240 - Paragraph B

 

Frontier Airlines – F9

 

In the event of a “force majeure event”  the airline may, without notice, cancel, terminate, divert, postpone, or delay any flight … without liability

 

On Frontier Airlines a “force majeure event” is …a cancellation due to any condition beyond the Airline’s control including, but not limited to, meteorological conditions … any government regulation … any shortage of labor

 

Frontier Airlines Contract of Carriage - Definitions - Rules 35 & 240

 

Hawaiian Airlines – HA

 

Carrier may, without notice, cancel, terminate, divert, postpone, or delay any flight … and determine if any departure or landing should be made, without liability … because of any fact beyond its control … including but without limitation, meteorological conditions … any government regulation … because of shortage of labor

 

Hawaiian Airlines Contract of Carriage - Rules 85 - Paragraph D

 

 

JetBlue Airways – B6

 

Whenever Carrier cancels … scheduled flight, Carrier will, at the request of the Passenger either (1) transport the Passenger on another of Carrier’s flight on which space is available … or provide Passenger with a full refund. … Carrier shall have no other liability or responsibility to any Passenger as a result of failure to operate any flight.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL CARRIER BE LIABLE TO ANY PASSENGER FOR ANY TYPE OF SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES.

 

JetBlue Airlines Contract of Carriage - Rules 25 - paragraph A

 

 

 

Midwest Airlines – YX

 

In the event of a “force majeure event”, the airline may, without notice, cancel, terminate, divert, postpone, or delay any flight … without liability

 

On Midwest Airlines a “Force Majeure Event” is …a cancellation due to any condition beyond the Airline’s control including, but not limited to, meteorological conditions … any government regulation … any shortage of labor

 

Midwest Airlines Contract of Carriage - Definitions - Rules 35 & 240

 

 

Southwest Airlines – WN

 

Carrier shall not be liable for any failure or delay in operating any flight due to causes beyond Carrier’s control, including but not limited to … governmental actionsweather Air Traffic Control

 

Southwest Airlines Contract of Carriage - Rule 85 - Paragraph B

 

 

Spirit Airlines – NK

 

… Spirit is not responsible for making connections, or for failing to operate any flight according to its schedule …

Spirit will not assume expenses incurred as a result of flight delay, cancellation, or schedule change …

 

Spirit Airlines Contract of Carriage - Section 7.1 & 7.3

 

 

Sun Country Airlines – SY

 

Sun Country is not liable for its refusal to transport any passenger … Sun Country Airlines may refuse to transport … by reason of … government regulation weather

 

Sun Country Airlines Contract of Carriage - Rule 135

 

 

United Airlines – UA

 

United Airlines may, in the event of a “force majeure event”, without notice, cancel, terminate, divert, postpone, or delay any flight … and determine if any departure or landing should be made, without any liability except to refund … and unused portion of the ticket. 

 

As used in this rule, “Force Majeure Event” means any condition beyond United Airlines’ control including but without limitation, meteorological conditions … any7 government regulation … any shortage of labor …any fact not reasonably foreseen, anticipated, or predicted.

 

United Airlines Contract of Carriage - Rule 240

 

 

US Airways – US

 

US Airways will provide a food voucher … when delay is not due to Air Traffic Control, weather, or other circumstances (government regulation) beyond US Airways’ control. 

 

Overnight accommodations will not be provided for customers whose flights are delayed or cancelled due to circumstances beyond US Airways’ control such as Air Traffic Control or weather.

 

US Airways Terms of Transportation - Rule 9.6

 

USA 3000 – U5

 

… USA3000 Airlines is not responsible or liable for failure to make connections or for failure to operate any flight according to schedule …

 

… USA 3000 Airlines will not provide or reimburse passengers for expenses incurred due to delays or cancellations of flights.

 

USA 3000 Contract of Carriage - Page 13 - paragraphs C & E

 

Virgin America - VX

 

In the event of any Force Majeure Event, Virgin America may, without notice cancel, terminate, divert, postpone or delay any flight … without any liability except to issue an involuntary refund.  Virgin America will also reserve the right to determine if any departure or landing should be made without any liability

 

Force Majeure Event means any condition beyond Virgin America’s control including … meteorological conditionsany governmental regulationsany shortage of labor … any fact not reasonably foreseen, anticipated or predicted by Virgin America

 

Virgin America Contract of Carriage Pages 5 & 13

 

 

Published April 3 by Trippler & Assocates, Inc.  All rules and regulations I used are those that were in effect as of Friday, April 1, 2010.  It certainly is not my intent to provide any legal advice regarding the purchase, sale or use of air transportation.  I provide this information for consumer information purposes only. 

 

On my next note, I will look at who I believe are the winners and losers..  As I see it, we have three players …

 

·         The Airlines

·         The Crusaders

·         You, the Air Traveler

 

Terry Trippler

www.rulestoknow.com

[email protected]

612-339=0940

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