Regulation

Your Flight Is Canceled, Starting Today!

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everybody off!

A while back, I blogged about the Department of Transportation's new "tarmac rule." In an effort to protect airline passengers' "fundamental right to be treated with respect," 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. And the fines are huge: $27,500 per violation, which means a delayed 747 jammed full of people headed to their summer vacations could cost the airline more than $13 million.

The rule went into effect today. And it's still a terrible idea that won't work:

The potential price for violating the rule means that in the short term, many domestic airlines will likely act "with an abundance of caution," says Jami Counter, senior director of TripAdvisor Flights, and that planes sitting on the tarmac getting too "close to the three-hour bubble will [return to the gate] and be cancelled," he says.

"This is a very well-intentioned rule. The problem is that it has some loopholes," notes George Hobica, president of AirfareWatchdog.com, referring to the tarmac rule's two exceptions: A pilot doesn't have to deplane passengers if he determines there's a safety or security issue, or if air traffic control tells him that deplaning would disrupt the airport. "If the captain decides it's not safe [to deplane], all bets are off," Hobica explains, "but what's not safe? What if there are no gates and no way to get passengers from the gate to the terminal except for walking across an active taxiway—all bets are off—[the airline] won't get fined." Likewise, if no gates are available and there's a thunderstorm, Hobica says, the pilot likely won't feel it's safe to deplane then, either.

Hobica suggests that the airlines won't be able to obey the tarmac rule successfully unless the airports—who are not subject to the fines—become part of the solution by either making emergency deplaning gates available at all times or, in the absence of an available gate, providing a bus equipped with a movable stairway that could drive to the aircraft and deplane passengers. "A spare gate is lost revenue for airports and they are loath to do that," Hobica says, "but they need to get people off plane safely—so you either need to bring transportation to the plane or bring people to the gate and that's going to cost money."

And airport/airline cooperation isn't exactly a given on stuff like this. For more on the messed up air transit system in this country, check out anything on the subject by the Reason Foundation's Bob Poole.

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  1. or if air traffic control tells him that deplaning would disrupt the airport.

    In other words, never.

    1. Right, because air traffic controllers do not care about anything but controlling your life, like every other public employee in the world.

      1. No, dumbass.

        It’s clear that the exceptions provided to this rule could simply be invoked in every instance where the rule could ever possibly be applied.

        So it’s not even really a rule. When the exceptions to the rule account for every last possible instance of the rule, there is no rule.

        There is NO situation where the pilot can’t claim that it’s not safe to deplane or where airport personnel can’t claim it’s “disruptive” to deplane.

        Therefore the rule is a joke. It’s very simple to circumvent the rule by “planned incompetence”. The more inefficient you are at planning ahead to have a solution for deplaning your passengers, the less you have to obey the rule. If you can simply contrive a situation where it would degrade safety or security for passengers to deplane, you don’t have to obey the rule and can’t get fined.

        1. So it’s not ieven really a rule. When the exceptions to the rule account for every last possible instance of the rule, there is no rule.

          THen what exactly is Reason complaing about?

          This post is basically : “This new rule is terrible and it’s going to be shitty for travelers, and the airlines wont even follow it”

          I don’t think one can have it both ways, either the rule is going to make travel worse, or the rule won’t be enforced because of the loopholes.

          These criticisms can’t be leveled at the same time if you want to be taken seriously.

          1. If I get stuck on a plane for 8 hours sitting on the grounf, I’m still suing, so there.

          2. I think the complaint is that “the government did something”…you can imagine a Reason staff meeting where somebody brings up a new law/reg and the rest of the group tries to figure out why it won’t help anything.

          3. It can be both ways. The rule will most definitely lead to more canceled flights, and the exceptions will be used at other times to dodge enforcement. Yes, the government did something… stupid. Again.

            “you can imagine a Reason staff meeting where somebody brings up a new law/reg and the rest of the group tries to figure out why it won’t help anything.”

            I think you just have extremely slow critical thinking skills, as it only takes me a split second immediately between hearing about some dumbfuck regulation and realizing what the unintended consequences will be.

            Also, suck a dick.

          4. ChicagoTom|4.29.10 @ 10:45AM|#
            “…These criticisms can’t be leveled at the same time if you want to be taken seriously….”

            So if some new government reg both makes things worse *and* wastes time and money, we can only gripe about one and not the other?
            Is this some new government reg?

          5. There’s no contradiction there, ChiTom. Best case is nothing changing; worst case is massive flight cancellations. The latter is especially likely if the govt decides to close the “safety loophole”.

            1. And, what if the govt. disagrees? They determine that the pilot was in error believing that there was a safety hazard. Then they fine the airline anyway. I assume that the FAA has that recourse to prevent “abuse”.

      2. I got to the gas station and there was an old black man behind the counter, the tag on his blue gas station vest revealed him to be “Otis”. Otis looked at me, and then my thumb, still bleeding like crazy from the gun.

        “You blasted him, right?” Otis asked me. “He was an antenna.”

  2. I see the potential for a lot of problems, but airlines were committing acts that were tantamount to imprisonment. I am not a “something had to be done” kinda guy, but if anyone has alternative suggestions, I am all ears.

    1. Simple. Just work hard enough to own your own private jet and landing strip, and then you have no more problems in this area.

      1. This is not as witty or snarky as you think it is.

        D+

        1. You’re wrong, WTB. It’s side-splittingly hilarious and you know it. Just admit it.

          1. His comment below about guns is much better. This one is just class-envy pap.

      2. You could learn a few things from Patriot Henry.

      3. Decentralized air travel is a solution. Smaller commercial planes, charters, and general aviation serving airports closer to where the traveler needs to be.

    2. Have a bus drive out to the tarmac every 20 minutes and pick up passengers who want to get off the plane if it is expected to be delayed for a long time.

      I’m sure that violates 27 federal regulations or something, but it is a far superior solution.

    3. The main reason planes stayed on the tarmac is that the tarmac lines were handled in a first come first served basis, so if you left your spot in line, you’d have to go back. Theoretically*, one fix would be allowing planes delayed due to weather, rather than mechanical or airline fuckups, to cut in line in the original order that they were supposed to take off after a set number of hours. This would take away the primary reason for not heading back.

      * I do not know enough about airport/runway operations to know if this is a feasible solution.

      1. Probably not feasible. I don’t recall seeing ‘passing lanes’ on any taxiway.

        1. How do planes leave the line and head back then? Presumably, if there is room for a plane to leave the taxiway, there is room for a plane to cut up front.

      2. it’s not feasible

      3. I blame subsidized airports for this. Every airline competing for scheduling is a disaster. Smaller regional, private commercial airports would have served us better than the political monsters like O’Hare.

    4. How about a market based solution. The airlines that are known to have this problem lose customers. Also, get rid of the regulations that interfere with moving the stranded planes around. I’m sure the airlines can find their own solutions, such as Tulpa’s bus or planemates ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_lounge ).

  3. Simple. Just work hard enough to own your own private jet and landing strip, and then you have no more problems in this area.

    STFU, you shit-gobbling weasel.

    1. Come on, that was a good libertarian answer.

  4. Your position is un-libertarian. Getting on a plane shouldn’t subject you to indefinite detention.

    1. As long as that detention is done by a private corporation, it is fine. You choose to get on the plane, after all, and by definition only the government can restrict freedom.

      1. No, dumbass.

        If that was the case, libertarians would oppose laws against kidnapping.

        I don’t know a lot of libertarians who oppose laws against kidnapping.

        1. It’s not kidnapping – you voluntarily got on the plane and understand that you might be held there.

          Now, people should be allowed to take guns onto the plane so they can blast their way out if need be. It’s all about liberty.

          Just as long as the government doesn’t “do anything” about it.

          1. Now, people should be allowed to take guns onto the plane so they can blast their way out if need be. It’s all about liberty.

            Say what you will about Dan T, but this was some pretty good snark.

            1. It’s good snark for him. Bless his heart.

              1. What’s wrong with people carrying guns on planes? “Hijacker shredded by hail of bullets” is a headline I’d love to see.

                1. Of course, the hijacker may have already shredded a few of the passengers and crew with his legal gun. But that’s a small price to pay for liberty.

                  1. Fuck you, shitbird. What you know about liberty wouldn’t fill a mouse’s ass.

                2. Nah, the NYT would report it as

                  “Reckless passenger narrowly avoids killing plane full of people in attempt to thwart attempted hi-jacking”

          2. You better bring a lot of ammunition with you if that’s the plan. It’s been shown that bullet holes in plane fusilages aren’t even large enough to cause decompression, much less provide an opening to get out.

          3. I understand no such thing.

            You may as well assert that they can taxi the plane into a holding area and keep me there like a SLA hostage for the next 50 years if they want to.

            “Hey, you understood when you bought your ticket that you might be held there!” Wha-evah.

      2. The prohibition on deplaning is due to federal regulations, foo’. I’m sure that airlines don’t want to have to track down deplaned passengers when a takeoff window opens up, but the regs ensure that none try to gain a competitive edge by letting people off if they want off.

        1. Read my lips “I DON’T GIVE A FLYING FUCK”

          Change the regs if that’s the issue.

        2. “Has anyone seen Gary Hamilton? Seat 29A?”

          “He’s over at the ceral bar.”

          “Well, tell him to get his fucking Cap’n Crunch cone or whatever and get the hell on the plane, we can take off now!”

  5. The Angry Optimist|4.29.10 @ 10:17AM|#

    I see the potential for a lot of problems, but airlines were committing acts that were tantamount to imprisonment. I am not a “something had to be done” kinda guy, but if anyone has alternative suggestions, I am all ears.

    +1

  6. I look forward to the first story detailing how 300 passengers had their flight canceled and were stranded for three days in Portland as Mt. Hood belched ash high into the atmosphere. Not that that could ever happen.

  7. Do you think Dan T.’s wife and child know that he’s a pathetic internet troll?

    1. He’s had sex? I’m gonna need proof.

      1. Who wouldn’t be proud of a father that harasses people all day because he gets off on being an asshole? You think he brings it up on career day?

        “Hi, kids. I’m a complete twat who trolls all day on the internet. Imagine if you were having a conversation with your friends and little Bobby over here ran between you saying that everything you think was wrong and whining until he became the center of attention. And imagine if he refused to leave you alone, even after you asked him politely and no-so-politely to leave you alone?

        Which one of you kids wants to grow up to be like me? Come on, raise your hands.”

        1. For some reason or other, this reminds me of the ending scene to Requiem for a Dream.

        2. Oh brother.

          Sorry if I hurt anybody’s feelings by mocking your insane political views, or at least getting in the way of you folks mocking everybody elses’ views.

          Talk about a crew who can dish it out but can’t take it. Damn.

          1. I understand, trolls gotta troll. I just don’t know how you live with yourself.

            Does UNC list you as a troll in the alumni newsletter? They must be so proud.

          2. Don’t flatter yourself, shitbird. You’re a fun target, and that’s all you are. Now go vogalize my tyricnal klinbirators, faggot.

            1. Good, as long as I’m provding a little fun on this morbid blog everybody should be happy.

              1. Your life just an ocean of garbage so you want ours to be one as well. Narcissistic fuckbag.

                1. Jeez. Sorry, I didn’t realize I was ruining people’s lives.

                  Please, return to the echo chamber. I promise from now on to only post approved ideas, here in the land of the Free Minds.

                  Now drink.

                  1. Wow. That’s so funny. You are so hilarious.

                  2. So are you leaving or not, shitfuck?

      2. I couldn’t help myself. That troll was hot. Proof will be home from school at 3:00pm.

    2. His wife knows it. His kids know it. Dogs know it. The only one who doesn’t know it is him!

  8. Stupid stupid stupid. Planes do not HAVE to remain at gates (physically, so don’t bullshit me with FAA regulations blah blah blah) so given delays closing in on 3 hours, an airline needs to be ready to move some plane out of the gate so passengers on the delayed plane can get out for 30 minutes and stretch their legs. Yes, logistically its a pain, but its less of a pain then 100 angry people readying their lawsuits on the plane.

    1. I only mentioned the FAA regs in response to Dan T claiming that it was the free market’s fault. Obviously they need to be changed.

  9. “Reckless passenger narrowly avoids killing plane full of people in attempt to thwart attempted hi-jacking”

    More like, “Terror in the Sky: Delusional Man Acts Out Movie Superhero Fantasy as Trapped, Horrified Passengers Look On.”

    1. Nice! I’ll prepare the Onion article to go with the headline.

  10. On a trip from Chicago to NYC a few years ago, I spent 4 hours in the middle of the night trapped in my uncomfortable seat while we waited to get underway. We weren’t allowed to use the toilet or leave the coach section, and there wasn’t any easy way to get food or water.

    This law wouldn’t have made those responsible pay for this torture. In fact, no law allowing the government to fine eeeeeevil corporations would have helped. I’ll leave it to you all to guess the answer to this riddle.

    1. I got to spend the smae amount of time on Love Field tarmac back in the late ’90s. I read 3/4 of a book that I was damn glad to have had. Atleast they kept the engines on so the A/C was on.

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