Another government regulation: Three hour maximum for planes on the tarmac
This year through Oct. 31, there were 864 flights with taxi out times of three hours or more, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Transportation officials, using 2007 and 2008 data, said there are an average of 1,500 domestic flights a year carrying about 114,000 passengers that are delayed more than three hours. . . ."
That is an annual rate of 1,037 flights this year. For 2007 and 2008, it is an average of 822.5 million passengers and 10.94 million flights. So that is 0.01 percent of passengers were on flights delayed by more than three hours and 0.01 percent of flights.
So what are the implications? Given the huge fines per passenger, airlines won't even put people on planes if there is a chance that the plane won't take off soon. Zero tolerance rules also make about as much sense here as they do for schools or anything else. I would guess that many people have been on their plane queuing to take off when the FAA tells planes that they have to wait because of weather. Now suppose that after waiting for two and a half hours the FAA tells the airlines that they will soon give the all clear, would you like to have to go back to the terminal?
Passengers value getting to their destinations and they also value not being stuck on planes, but who is best to make those decisions? The customers or the government? It is also costly to return passengers to the terminal and remove baggage from the planes before the three hours are up. If airlines make the wrong decisions, what do you think will happen to whether passengers are willing to take their planes. If this is a significant problem, should airlines be competing against each other for passengers based on this issue? The rules will make the airlines more risk averse than passengers want them to be. One clear implication is that this will raise the price of air travel.
There are probably a range of responses that different airlines will take on their own. If you are in first class, you probably get served a lot even when you are on the tarmac. Some airlines will serve passengers in coach more than others. Those services cost something and passengers can pick the airlines that they want based upon price and whether they are willing to save a few dollars and take that additional risk. People can bring water bottles on the plane with them if they would rather save a few dollars and do it that way.
What bothered me was a report that the transportation department warned airlines not to appeal the decision.
There might be some tests that can be done given that the rules apply differently to different types of flights.
The regulations apply to domestic flights. U.S. carriers operating international flights departing from or arriving in the United States must specify, in advance, their own time limits for deplaning passengers. Foreign carriers do not fly between two U.S. cities and are not covered by the rules. Tarmac strandings have mostly involved domestic flights, but the department is studying extending the three-hour limit to international flights, LaHood said. . . .