Disgruntled airline passengers want Congress to intervene to prevent Airline atrocities by Mitch E. Perry

01/26/07
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday

 According to federal data obtained by USA Today, Airline delays increased sharply last year to record highs because of a rash of bad weather starting in the fall that shut airports and stranded thousands of passengers.By several measures, airline delays exceeded those in 1999 and 2000, when thunderstorms created such chaos in schedules that passengers revolted and Congress threatened to take action against airline carriers. Now, after one particularly horrific experience for a planeload of passengers flying from San Francisco to Mobile Alabama at the end of last year, there is another movement by disgruntled passengers for Congressional Action.Napa, California resident Kate Hanni was stuck with her husband on American Airllines Flight 1348 in Austin, Texas for nearly 10 hours on December 29th.  Her flight was supposed to land at Dallas Fort Worth for a connection, but heavy thunderstorms diverted the plane to Austin.Where it sat for a long time (roll tape#1 o.q.”without permission’)A spokesman for American Airlines has apologized for the specific experience of the passengers on Flight 1348.The airline says they have also issued vouchers worth up to $500 as a reflection of their sincerity about that night.  But some of those passengers say that only happened after their story was reported by the Wall Street Journal, and later NBC News.Airline passenger Kate Hanni wants to use her negative experience in a way a positive way.  She and other angry passengers  have created a new group, the Coalition for Airline Passenger’s Bill of Rights – and an adjoining website – strandedpassengers.blogspot.com (roll tape#2 o.q.”on an airplane”)Among the Proposed Passengers Bill of Rights includes establishing procedures for airlines to return passengers to a terminal gate after 3 hours on the tarmac.Establishing procedures for airlines to return passengers to a terminal gate after 3 hours on the tarmac.And compensation for passengers whose baggage is lost or mishandled.   The next step for the disgruntled airline passengers is to lobby Congress to get involved and to hold the airlines accountable.  Similar attempts for protecting traveling consumers came and went back in 2000 and 2002.  But  Kate Hanni says that as more people learn about the Coalition for Airline Passengers Bill of Rights, more people are getting involved (roll tape#3 o.q.”on the airline”)Again, the website to learn more about the Passenger Bill of Rights coalition is strandedpassengers.blogspot.com   

And in order to provide full disclosure.  This reporter was also delayed for many hours on an American Airlines flight the same day in question, Friday the 29th, when attempting to fly from San Francisco to Tampa.  Ultimately, none of the passengers on that flight were able to get to Dallas Fort Worth Airport that day to make their connecting flights back home, and many, if not most, had to sleep overnight in the Dallas Fort Worth Airport.

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