ASTA wants progress reports from airlines and airports on the treatment of passengers impacted by tarmac delays. The move is a needed next step, ASTA said when commenting on the National Task Force to Develop Model Contingency Plans to Deal with Lengthy Airline On-Board Ground Delays. The study was approved in a final report to be transmitted to Mary Peters, secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT). The plans have been under consideration for six months and have come under fire from consumer groups for not going far enough to protect travelers.
ASTA, which held a seat on the Task Force, issued the following statement:
“ASTA is grateful for the opportunity to participate on the Task Force, where it shared its perspective on the needs of air travelers for accommodation during the long ground delays that continue to plague our transportation system. ASTA voted in favor of the final report, but did not do so because we thought it was the perfect realization of our long-standing goal of improving the treatment of air travelers. It was not. But it does represent a meaningful step toward that goal and, if taken seriously by airlines and airports, will make a major contribution toward improving the care of passengers during the unpredictable but inevitable flight delays caused by weather, mechanical issues, congestion and infrastructure shortcomings.
“We believe that the task force process, which ASTA had recommended in testimony to the House of Representatives in April, 2007, resulted in valuable shared learning and heightened interest in addressing the concerns of passengers impacted by delays. ASTA told the Task Force in its closing remarks that the airlines should not see travel agents as adversaries in the implementation of the report going forward, because all are bound together by the needs of their mutual customer and must work constructively together to assure the customers' needs are met.”
In the interest of assuring that the report is acted upon, ASTA has asked the Secretary Peters to add one element to the report— a call for airlines and airports nationally to report back to DOT in six-month phases on the actual progress that each has made in implementing the recommendations in the report. In ASTA's opinion, this will assure that the real progress envisioned by the final report of the Task Force will occur.