Airline passenger bill of rights

I've really got this passenger bill of rights thing stuck in my craw.  As someone who travels frequently (and often with my children), I find it unforgivable that an airline would leave people locked in a giant aluminum tube for 8 or 10 hours.  Honestly, in any other walk of life this kind of thing would be considered unlawful imprisonment! And that they can do so with impunity kills me.  I'm all about letting industries police themselves to whatever degree practical, but when customers are treated this poorly something has to be done.

 Okay, I feel a little better now.  Thanks for letting me vent.

Comments (13)

  1. Norman Diamond says:

    If you don’t make a contract with a company to lock you up in a giant aluminum tube for 8 or 10 hours, they won’t do it.  You can take a ship instead.

    I have my share of gripes.  For example, a flight being delayed a day and the staff hypocricising to the passengers "please bear with us" when we’re actually bearing without them (we lose a day’s pay and they get paid overtime).  Or for example, keeping passengers locked up for an extra hour or two after landing because no gate is available, when it shouldn’t be too hard to bring an old-fashioned set of steps to the plane and let passengers off that way.  But geez, if I couldn’t stand an 8 or 10 hour flight then I just wouldn’t take an 8 or 10 hour flight, I wouldn’t accuse the airline of unlawful confinement when they’re just providing the purchased service.

  2. Fisher says:


    You missed the point.  The flights Steve is referring to weren’t 10 hours.  The delays were 10+ hours and the airlines did not let passengers out.  Nor did they feed the passengers, or empty the toilets.  Pretty much all over the news.

  3. Brian Cawley says:

    Seems one way to get the message across is to pick one airline and put out the word to boycott it for one week (assuming one can find an alternate carrier).

    I feel for those who who suffered with JB (and their ilk).

    Like the time we landed (Virgin) at Heathrow and couldn’t deplane for 45 minutes as they "couldn’t get the steps from another airline". Richard Branson’s preferred to spend his money on round the world balloon exploits.

    Now I am retired, I don’t travel as much as I did.

    After 9/11, flying was almost the worst aspect of my job. Security bull**** – lack of customer service from the airlines and their staff.

    No, I prefer to drive everywhere as much as I can.

    I feel that we are moving into George Orwell’s 1984; I don’t want to be a part of it anymore.

    More power to the road warriors

  4. Norman Diamond says:

    Monday, February 19, 2007 7:20 PM by Fisher

    > Norm, You missed the point.  The flights Steve is referring

    > to weren’t 10 hours.  The delays were 10+ hours and the

    > airlines did not let passengers out.

    Thank you for explaining, but…  I reread the original posting twice after reading your explanation, and I still don’t see it.

    > Pretty much all over the news.

    Then maybe this isn’t the kind of news that spreads very far.  I’ve experienced 1 hour like that but not 10  — as mentioned in my comment.  Was also pissed off about not being allowed to piss off when needed, but fortunately it was just 1 hour.

  5. Frank Lyvial says:

    Has anybody really thought about why these kinds of things happen?  With all the security enforced upon us by Homeland Security after 9-11, the requirements for "safe" airports has dictated that airlines keep tight control of their passengers.  Lists have to be made, bagage has to be controlled and once people are on the planes, they must stay there until they get to their destinations or the flight gets canned.  Sometimes the airport authorities make it extremely difficult for airlines and their personnel to be accomodating for their passengers.  No gates, no clean taxiways, inadequate de-icing facilitities.  The list can go on and on.  

    I have noticed that those people have been completely left out of the feeding frenzie for freebies from Jet Blue and United.  Probably because they have nothing free to offer.  

    When airports close due to weather, by what rule does that make the operator responsible for delays or diversions?  By what rule is the flight crew or the cabin crew responsible for finding hotels for passengers of cancelled flights?  And who decides when and where these employees go with company assets, i.e. planes, whether empty or full?  Do you really think the crew buggered off on purpose to leave those people behind.  Do you really think they get some sort of sick satisfaction from flying around the country in empty planes watching the little round faces of those left behind in the windows of the airport?

    It is the short sighted ranting of media and a few pissed off passengers that make lives miserable for the airlines and their crews.   Those people are usually also the ones that paid the least for their tickets, weigh 350 lbs and don’t fit in one seat (and refuse to buy an extra seat but rather inconvenience other passengers with their exessive griths) and demand 5 star service like they are traveling on a private jet.  

    Passengers nowadays demand on time departure and arrival, firts class food and drink, private washrooms, comfortable seating no matter what their size, protection from terrorists, assistance with hotels, cabs, directions, and probably dressing in the morning.  All this for the price of lollipop.  

    Granted, not all is well in airline land, and improvements have to be made.  That will reflect in the price of your ticket.  One final rant…next time you fly, have a look at the crew, they are well aware of your experiences.  They are locked in a tube with you and NOT enjoying it.  They can only do what Homeland Security, the airport authority and their company allows them to do.  And they do not get paid overtime.  

    Do some navel gazing, read something about airline operations, think outside the box, then spew your discontent and make some suggestions.  Oh and don’t blame the crew when your God decides to make your life miserable for you with snow, ice or thunderstorms.  Thank your crew for taking care of you by not taking unnecessary risks.

    And if you don’t like any of that….. drive, float, walk or don’t go anywhere.  Last time I checked, the right to fly wasn’t listed in our constitution.  Freedom of speech is though.

  6. Norm: I added a link for those that haven’t kept up with current events on this topic.

    Frank: It’s clear you have a lot of passion on this subject, but you’ve really gone off topic from my original comments.  I don’t have issues with flight crews, ticket prices, in-flight refreshments, acts of God, or the like.  And I don’t believe you need to read an airline operations manual to know that keeping people locked up in a plane on the ground for 10 hours without refreshments or lav service is not acceptible.  I certainly don’t blame the flight crews, as you seem to imply.  The flight crew can only do their jobs within the guidelines that their employers set for them, but the fact that the crew shares in the misery of the passengers doesn’t make it any more acceptible for the airlines to create these situations.

    Frankly, I’m amazed that anyone would take the "if you don’t like it, don’t fly" stance on this, since even the airlines know this is a situation that they have to fix.  Clearly, JetBlue understands they made some serious mistakes in the most recent incident, since they’ve accepted responsibility for not trying to get the passengers off of the plane sooner and are taking measures to be more customer-focused in their business:,0,383172.story?coll=la-ap-topnews-headlines

  7. William Prater says:

    If the "ground delay" problem is discussed in terms of compensation,  nothing will be done.  In every case, a person with authority must be assigned and he must be able to marshal the needed assets, people, vehicles, etc. to get everyone off the plane.

    As long as the station manager can hand out vouchers, he will do this rather than address the direct problem.

  8. Terry Bushue says:

    As a person who has traveled extensively for many years (was a loadmaster for a major cargo carrier), I feel eminently qualified to discuss present day airline service (lack thereof) and TSA (tons of people standing around) security.  Security first:  What a joke and what an enormous cost to us taxpayers!  If I was a terrorist bent on wreaking havoc and destruction and willing to die for the cause there is absolutely no way security can stop me.  Right off hand I can think of two sure-fired methods to gain access to restricted AOA (Air OPerations Areas) and TSA can do absolutely nothing to stop me.  Here in America we are not willing to pay what it would cost to really make our airports secure (Visit Israel and compare our security to theirs).  So what have we really accomplished with all this added  b*** S*** we go through every time we want to fly?  Answer….nothing.  Airline service next:  Every time I get on an airplane I notice a drastic erosion in what is called service.  I"m not talking about having to pay for meals or pillows and blankets etc.  I am talking basics:  what time really will the flight leave, and when it is delayed give me a real update on when you reasonably expect it to depart.  Not outright lies like I have gotten so many times.  Too many examples to list here but this is my favorite.  Flight is supposed to depart at 12:00  from Anchorage.  I live an hour away from the airport so I have to leave home three hours early to get to the aiport in time to go through the security rigamarole.  I call the airlines prior to leaving home to ensure the flight is ontime.  Of course you cant talk to a person…you got to go throught numerous computer generated phone menus to get a recording telling you the flight is on time.  Now mind you the aircraft for this flight is coming from Seattle…at least three hours away.  Get to the airport….now I find out the flight is going to ber leaving at three instead of twelve.  Reason the aircraft was late into SEA.  So we are supposed to depart at three….at three the a/c is still not here from SEA because it was much later getting into SEA.  I go talk to a ticket agent…how can they say the flight is leaving at three when the a/c is not even there.  Answer…stupid giggling.  It seems to me that the airlines have given up on any concept of customer service.  Why do we as a traveling public allow them to get away with this.  Time for a bill of rights…you bet.

  9. tom kennedy says:

    In addtion to delayyed flights passengers need to be protected regarding flight costs. Presently it is like the old days of new car pricing. Demand uniform ticket pricing plan and simple. Poor people are getting hurt bacasue they cannot acces last mintue deals online. heir is no linit to how the arilines take advantage of you on ticket prices

  10. Norman Diamond says:

    An article from the Los Angeles Times was reprinted in this morning’s Japan Times.  Indeed, now I really see what the complaints are.

  11. Tom: I’m actually a believer in the power of free market economies on this point.  As long as airlines don’t illegally collude on pricing (which they’ve certainly done in the past), I’m comfortable letting the market determine ticket pricing.

  12. crewonboardhere says:

    We also need a "Crew Bill of Rights.." Passengers should be required by law to treat crew members with respect.

    It’s basically not the crew members who are making the decisions that piss off the passengers. Also there are ways to be angry that include respectful behavior.  Passengers need to be educated. Basically the rudest passengers are those that fly the least. The frequent flyers are in the travel enviroment as much as we are so they understand the realities of the airline world post 911. They are not living in the 60’s through the 90’s any more. They too get inconvienanced and angry but generally treat crew with much more respect.  They see the bigger picture. This is not to say that the airline world need much improvement . It sure does. But the Ceo’s, the ones with the huge bonuses at the expense of your comfort while traveling are the real issues.

  13. Ray Tarr says:

    After getting me to Atlanta too late to make my connection to Manchester, NH, I waited for five hours for another flight that turned into eight hours.  We actually boarded the plane and were told we needed fuel.  When the fuel truck came we were informed by the captain that the crew was over their time limit and we would have to de-plane till they could get another crew. It is now ten hours. Finally they cancelled the flight at ten thirty PM.  I asked for a hotel voucher and was told I was on my own but to send the bill to Delta and they would decide whether to pay it or not.  I received a $7 voucher for dinner.  The supervisor told me they would not compensate me in any way and to call Delta direct.  I feel I got screwed.

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