For Immediate Release Date: 11-20-2009
Contact: Kate Hanni Phone # 707-337-0328

Airline Passengers Rights Still “Up In The Air”
Senate Finance Committee, lead by Max Baucus, gives
airline passengers lump of coal for the holidays

Napa, CA-Today President Kate Hanni called on the Senate Finance Committee, and in particular Chair Max Baucus, to stop stalling and pass S1451, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization. This bill would grant airline passengers a long-awaited Passenger’s Bill of Rights, which enjoys bipartisan support in the United States Senate.

Over the past week, two airplanes were stuck on the tarmac at JFK Airport in New York and according to FoxNews, a similar 4-hour lockup was experienced by travelers at Reagan National Airport yesterday. In the former case, a pregnant woman, Nikki Spier, spent 4.5 hours stuck on an immobile Delta Flight; the flight crew told her husband, who was concerned about his wife’s health, that she could only exit the aircraft if there were a “medical emergency.” After spending 287 minutes on the stationery aircraft, Nikki was so ill she couldn’t go to work the next day.

Hanni called this “outrageous,” adding, that, “we were promised by Chairman Baucus that the FAA reauthorization would be passed by the December 31st deadline, yet this important legislation has once again been ignored with its 8th extension now pushing the deadline back to March 31st. It seems passengers aren’t the only ones stuck on a tarmac—so are their rights.”

Not only would this bill require passengers be provided food, water, and hygienic toilets during delays now be limited to 3 hours in length, but Hanni pointed out that it’s also a jobs bill, making it even more vital to pass during these troubled economic times. In fact, the legislation could create as many as 288,000 new jobs, depending upon the funding level approved. This may be why 35 Senators sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee in November, imploring its members to mark up the FAA Bill and move it to the Senate floor.

With delays likely to mount during the busy holiday season, the best gift Senator Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee could give to those already victimized by long waits and cancelled flights, as well as the 27,000 members of and the traveling public, would be to take up FAA reauthorization immediately and pass it in the name of the American public.