Coalition for An Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights
U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG)

CONTACT: Kate Hanni, Coalition, 707-337-0328
Ed Mierzwinski, PIRG, 202-546-9707 x314

Passengers’ Rights Legislation One Step Closer to Take-Off
** Groups Commend Commerce Committee For Including Version of
Boxer-Snowe Bill In FAA Reauthorization Package **

The Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights and U.S. PIRG commended the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee for including a bi-partisan airline passengers’ bill of rights in the comprehensive FAA Reauthorization bill approved today. At the same time, the groups pledged to work with their champions, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), to expand and improve the basic provision as the bill moves toward final passage.

“Along with thousands of other passengers left stranded for 8-10 hours or more in non-hygienic planes, I am very pleased that the committee has moved an airline passengers’ bill of rights closer to takeoff,” said Kate Hanni, spokeswoman for the Coalition for An Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights. “Now we need to help our champions Senators Boxer and Snowe to make sure Congress finishes the job in a way that will guarantee those rights.”

The FAA Reauthorization bill includes a provision providing that passengers trapped on a runway have the basic right to deplane within three hours unless the airline has filed with the FAA its own alternate plan for treatment of passengers in such situations. The legislation also requires airlines to provide passengers with necessary services such as food, potable water and adequate restroom facilities while a plane is delayed on the ground.

“Although we have serious concerns about the potential consequences of the current language of the bill’s alternate plan provision, we have been assured by Senator Boxer that she and Senator Snowe will continue to work to ensure that the final bill protects the current common law rights of the flying public and sets meaningful minimum standards for these airline plans that will protect the flying public,” added Hanni.

“A full Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights must ensure that airlines are subject to minimum standards in these trapped-on-the-runway situations, and that passengers have full and enforceable legal rights not only in these situations but also when their baggage is lost or damaged or when they are bumped,” said Edmund Mierzwinski, Consumer Program Director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). “Along with other
leading consumer groups, we intend to work with the coalition and other groups, Senators Boxer and Snowe and other Congressional champions to make sure that a strong Airline
Passenger Bill of Rights is incorporated into the final FAA bill that goes to the president.”

The groups also praised an amendment by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), accepted by the committee in principle, which will ensure that the Department of Transportation’s FAA is held accountable and holds airlines accountable.

“We are pleased that Senator Boxer has pledged to continue working to expand these basic rights as the legislation moves forward,” concluded Hanni. “We are also pleased that for what is apparently the first time after several failed attempts in the last ten years, a Congressional Committee has approved an airline passenger bill of rights.”


The Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights ( has 15,000 supporters. It was founded by Hanni and hundreds of other passengers who were stranded on several American Airlines planes for up to 9 hours at Austin International Airport, December 2006.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group ( is the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups. The PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organizations.