AmiCOUR IP Group News and Opinions

Flyers Rights:
FAA Modernization and Safety Improvement Act of 2012 Includes Airline Passenger Protections

Welcome to the AmiCOUR IP Blog.  We invite your comments.  Past Issues.

February 2, 2012 - Who says you can't go to Washington and get the law changed?  After being stranded by American Airlines, passenger Kate Hanni decided it was time to talk to her congressman. It wasn't long before she formed a growing organization,, which now claims almost 30,000 members.  ... and they did get the law changed... and they are about to do it again.

In an age of legislative gridlock, both sides of the aisle now seem to agree that airlines still need help running their businesses. A few of the new rules still leave open the political risk of future administrative agency decisions to reduce passenger rights, but if the bill finally passes and gets signed by the President, Hanni's group reports gets 90 percent of what it hoped for.

Front and center is the three hour tarmac rule, already in effect but with the loophole that allows future FAA adjustment to make the limit longer, or for than matter, even shorter. On the other hand, new laws making food, water, and medical treatment available to passengers are more encouraging.  Instead of requiring airlines to make these essentials available after two hours, food, water, and medical care must always be available to passengers.

Airport station operations must also tow the line under the new rules, especially when it comes to preparing for bad weather. Each airport and each airline must have proper  contingency plans in place, a first in passenger rights legislation. No doubt, this provision came after managers behaved like the Captain of the Costa Concordia, abandoning full airplanes and leaving passengers stranded overnight in a snow emergency.

Other provisions addressed smoking, the use of insecticides, child safety and safety seats, care and transport of musical instruments, accurate and timely delay information, realistic flight scheduling, transport of military personnel, and defined compensation for luggage claims. Last but not least, the new legislation established an advisory committee for Aviation Consumer Protection in addition to the Department of Transportation's long standing Aviation Consumer Protection Division.