By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
The Obama administration Monday announced a new policy prohibiting airlines from stranding passengers on the tarmac for more than three hours, and imposing a $27,500 per-passenger fine for airlines who violate the rule, according to the New York Times. This is the kind of federal regulation people like: it doesn't create any new bureaucracies, it doesn't infringe on states' rights or contain unfunded mandates, and it may actually make some money for the taxpayers. Plus it protects consumers from what can only be called abusive practices.
So why didn't the airlines get out ahead of this? As the mother of a special-needs child and the daughter of a well-traveled senior with medical issues, I know that families like ours would have flocked to any airline which had announced their own policy of no-strandings-on-the-tarmac. Just as when Southwest announced they weren't charging extra for baggage, a smart business decision would have been to announce a similar ban on holding passengers on the runway for hours on end--not because the government forced it, but because it's the right thing to do.
I regularly fly with a carry-on bag loaded not with trashy fashion magazines to entertain myself (wouldn't that be fun?), but instead with a traveling medicine cabinet for my daughter to go two days without medical care or sugar, in case we get stranded on the tarmac or in the airport. I'm sure other folks do the same thing. Maybe this will make life a little easier for families like ours.