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New Bill of Rights Passed for Airline Passengers

July 15, 2009 By: Lindsey Boyle


Passengers who have felt captive to airlines while stuck on the tarmac are a step closer to having a new bill of rights. A new Senate bill was unveiled through the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009, which includes important Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights provisions.

The provisions state that passengers will have the right to return to the terminal after three-hours on the tarmac if the pilot determines this can be done safely. Second, while on the tarmac, airlines will be required to provide food, potable water, working restrooms, and reasonable cabin temperature and ventilation.

"This is a major victory for airline passengers," said Kate Hanni, whose organization,, has been working for over two years for airline passengers' bill of rights with a three-hour minimum. "But the war isn't won yet."

If and when the full Senate eventually passes these rights, House leaders will still have their say in conference. Despite intense focus over the last two years to persuade key House leaders of the need to impose time limits, the House has left the option of time limits up to the airlines themselves.

"This would have led to mass consumer confusion - one airline could have a limit of 5 hours, and another airline could have set a limit of 10 hours," said Hanni. This new bill is being backed by different groups of people and consumer-friendly airlines. is applauding the Senate Commerce Committee for recognizing airline passengers' rights.

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