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Relief for stranded airline passengers

December 22, 2009

New rules on delayed flights

Under a directive announced by the Transportation Department, starting in April domestic airlines must:

* Allow passengers to return to the terminal if they have been stranded on the tarmac for more than three hours. The only exceptions are if safety or security reasons prohibit the plane from returning to the gate or if air traffic controllers advise against it.

* Provide food and water and access to a working bathroom after a plane has been delayed for more than two hours.

* Provide medical attention for passengers on delayed flights as needed.

* Display flight delay information on their websites.

* Designate an airline employee to monitor flight delays and cancellations, respond to complaints and tell passengers where to file complaints.

* Adopt plans to address flight delays and audit their own compliance with those plans.

* Not retroactively change their contracts to negatively affect customers who have already purchased tickets.

* Not schedule chronically delayed flights.

Source: Times research

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