07 September 2009

BTC Releases Study On Pax Delay

The BTC has been a long campaigner in the issue of passenger rights. And so to put the money where the mouth is - they commissioned a study on the travel industry opinion on the thorny issue of passenger flight delays.

The just released study results should make for some compelling reading for the airlines and their users. Clearly there is an impression that the airlines have failed to heed issues of passenger rights. The industry reaction has been to obfuscate the issue rather than address it. Voluntary self governance rules have failed and even the current regulations are largely flaunted by US carriers.

Contrast this with the situation in Europe. The European Commission issued passenger rights legislation in 2004. Since that time the airlines have been forced to comply and provide automatic compensation.

I believe that the US airlines have had enough time to work this out. The recent cases of tarmac delays and "imprisonment" culminating in several flights last month of extended delays should be enough for the US Dept of Transportation to issue new regulations and/or Congress to act appropriately to curb the industry excesses.

Of course I should point out that the reasons for the situations are not always the direct fault of the airline. However too often a delay or an external factor is cited for the reason. The best one I heard a few weeks ago was "Operational Reasons". The EC rules are quite simple and compliance is now a standard and accepted convention. AS I have noted before - the best performing airlines are the LCCs with Ryanair toping the table. Yet still bad airlines on both sides of the Atlantic try to hide behind erroneous interpretation of situations.

People this is not hard. Either the US DoT should fix this problem as a consumer protection issue or they should hand over the question to a different agency.

Passenger rights legislation is long overdue in the USA. As a very frequent traveller - I can more than attest to this. While I cannot vouch for the BTC's efficacy of the study - I believe it to accurately reflect a need to address the problem and the conclusions should point to a new passenger bill of rights legislation.

I for one am wholeheartedly in favor of this


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