Lipinski Hails USDOT Secretary LaHood's Announcement of New Regulation Protecting Passengers from Getting Stranded on Airport Tarmacs

Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) praised the decision by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to issue a new rule that will force airlines to allow passengers on domestic flights to deboard if they are stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours. Congressman Lipinski has been leading the fight to crack down on airlines that strand flyers on the runway in unsanitary conditions. Earlier this year, he called on Congress to support legislation similar in effect to the rule announced Monday.

“As a member of the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I’ve been pushing hard for action to deal with extended tarmac delays, so I am very happy that Secretary LaHood has listened and taken this decisive action,” Congressman Lipinski said. “Over the years, we’ve heard countless nightmare stories of passengers stuck aboard aircraft on the runway amid increasingly trying conditions. Yet for all the furor these incidents have provoked, they continue to occur. The time to get tough with the airlines was overdue. Oftentimes the Congressional process just takes too long, so I applaud Secretary LaHood’s decision to take this action on the Executive Branch level. We need to look out for passengers.”

Airlines will have to provide food, water, and working bathrooms to stranded passengers under the new rule. The penalty for airlines that violate the rule would be a fine of up to $27,500 per passenger. The rule, which takes effect in 120 days, includes reasonable but limited exceptions for safety and security.

(December 22, 2009)