02 February 2009

Continental and the strandees

Laws? We don't need no lousy laws....Continental Airlines president Jeff Smisek is staying couple of steps ahead of the legislators, those wise women and men of Congress who are taking yet another stab at a 'Passenger Bill of Rights' that would guarantee flyers that they could get off a plane after a three-hour delay on the runway.
During Continental's earnings call the other day, Smisek said that the carrier is "implementing a new internal policy for 2009, whereby we will give customers the opportunity to get off an airplane during tarmac delays in excess of three hours, subject of course to making sure we can do that safely." We're not sure how this will work in real life (you know - the realities in which airlines operate every day) but the reaction has been interesting
The ever-outspoken Kate Hanni, the leading bill of rights proponent and FlyersRights.org president, said she was pleased to hear of Continental's new policy: "We applaud ... We hope they will stipulate to these rights in their contract of carriage and that the language is enforceable by the passenger."

But to judge by the web, others have a more tempered reaction. Our friend Terry Maxon made a post on his Dallas Morning News blog, Airline Biz, and one anonymous poster commented: " As an airline pilot, I would like to go one further. After three hours, if one passenger wants to get off the airplane, we return to the gate and everyone gets off. The airline cancels the flight and the crew flies the empty aircraft to get it into position for the next flight. Makes our decision much easier and eliminates any bad press from a delayed flight."

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