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DOT: No Waivers for Airlines on 3-Hour Tarmac Delays

April 22, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Delays,DOT

dot waivers airlines 3 hour tarmac delays

In just one week (April 29), a new Dept. of Transportation (DOT) rule takes effect, that limits the time people have to sit on a plane – on the tarmac – to just 3-hours.

As soon as word of the rule was first made public, there was an immediate crush of carriers requesting that the rule be waived in some of their cases. Well, now we know the answer to those requests:


As activist Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood put it, “Passengers on flights delayed on the tarmac have a right to know they will not be held aboard a plane indefinitely. This is an important consumer protection, and we believe it should take effect as planned.”

As noted, earlier this year, JetBlue, Delta, American and other sought waivers and/or exemptions to the rule because of various situations at airports they fly to - especially at JFK because its main runway is under construction. The carriers said, without those exemptions, they’d have to cancel flights to avoid breaking the rule (and frankly, to avoid the hefty fines – $27,500 per passenger).

But the DOT says, airlines can minimize delays by rerouting and/or rescheduling flights.

Ball’s in your court, airlines.

3 Responses to “DOT: No Waivers for Airlines on 3-Hour Tarmac Delays”

  1. rainyb says:

    hhhhhmmmmmmm isn’t rerouting & rescheduling going to inconvenience passengers as much, or more?? ie not the passengers on the tarmac, the ones on those flights that would be rescheduled & rerouted?

  2. Rick Seaney says:


    You raise a good question, and the only thing I can say is, we’ll just have to wait and see.


  3. Len says:

    As a passenger who sat on the tarmac in Newark for 5 hours from 9PM to 2AM, I can tell you that I would much rather have deplaned at 10PM and spent the night in a hotel than arrive at my destination at 4:30AM.

    I think that air traffic control is going to have to do a better job in allowing only the aircraft that will actually be able to get off the ground to leave the gate. I’d rather be delayed 5 hours in the terminal than 5 hours on board.

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