Are three hours of your time worth $27,500? If they're spent in an airplane on the tarmac, then the U.S. Department of Transportation says they are. In December, the government announced that it would soon begin enforcing new rules that fine airlines per passengers for any tarmac delay that lasts more than three hours. The fines go into effect on April 29, meaning that a delayed 747 jammed full of people headed to their summer vacations could cost the airline more than $13 million.
But wait! If a flight is canceled, then the fine is void. Too bad no one can see the future to know what will happen next. Just kidding. We know exactly what will happen next.
So let's just go ahead and make this an official announcement: Starting in April, every flight that is delayed more than three hours in the United States of America is canceled. The flight that was delayed for the rainstorm that shows signs of clearing at 2 hours and 55 minutes? Canceled. The flight delayed for a repair that will take 3 hours and 4 minutes? Canceled.
And, of course, should an airline violate the delay rules and be forced to pay the fine, the cash won't go the passengers. But the passengers sleeping on the floor of the airport will enjoy the full realization of their "fundamental right to be treated with respect," according to Department of Transportation spokeswoman Maureen Knightly. So that's nice.
It sucks to be stuck on a plane for hours. No doubt about that. But in the government's traditional follow-but-pretend-you're-leading role, the new federal rules come three years after JetBlue garnered a bunch of negative publicity for a stranded flight on Valentine's Day in 2007 and immediately changed its policy to a four hour max wait rule. The rule caused cancellations to quintuple.
Via Jacob Grier.