Holds are barred, long ones on the tarmac anyway

It appears that it's about time for travelers to bid another adieu, but this time it is a not so fond one to the days of increasingly hungry passengers camped aboard a plane during a ridiculously long ground wait.

The Department of Transportation today gave the final go ahead to implement a federal rule barring airlines from holding a passenger aboard a flight stuck on the tarmac for more than 3 hours on April 29, deciding it cover all domestic flights from Day one.

It rejected requests for a temporary exemption from the new rule from JetBlue, American Airlines, U.S. Airways, Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines.

Jet Blue wanted a delay because of JFK airport construction and its request prompted Delta Airlines, American Airlines and Continental Airlines to make similar request for that and other New York airports. U.S. Airways sought a delay for Philadelphia because it feared delays in New York would spill over. All the airlines warned without delays they could have to cancel flights. United and Spirit then asked all airlines be treated the same.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the decision yesterday in a statement.

"Passengers on flights delayed on the tarmac have a right to know they will not be held aboard a plane indefinitely," he said. "This is an important consumer protection, and we believe it should take effect as planned."


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