JetBlue must be breathing a little easier now that another airline is making the front page over stranded passengers. US Airways had a hell of a weekend, and it had nothing to do with St. Paddy’s Day celebrations.
Some US Airways passengers were stranded in airports for three days; winter storms were once again the culprit. The passenger backlog from canceled flights has still not completely cleared.
Though no one has control over Mother Nature, would I be incorrect in stating that the airlines just don’t seem to be adequately prepared to deal with weather-related problems?
Obviously, passengers being forced to sit on grounded planes for hours and hours is unacceptable. This has been attributed to a lack of gate facilities to accommodate all the planes on the ground. So...
How about taking turns at the gate?
How about running shuttle buses out to the planes on the tarmac and ferrying passengers back to the terminal?
How about getting on these things before this happens again?
Probably due to “security” issues, the airline industry is given far too much latitude when it comes to its treatment of passengers. Keeping them on grounded planes for hours on end is not merely an inconvenience, it's unlawful detention, in my book.
JetBlue responded to its recent problems by issuing a passenger bill of rights, which describes how long and under what conditions the airline can keep passengers aboard, as well as penalties/remedies for flight delays and cancellations.
Some have floated a passenger bill of rights as a law that should be passed by Congress. The airlines don’t want this government inference, of course. But it’s looking like they need to get their shit together ASAP or face some tough love from someone in authority.
Getting passengers off planes is one thing, putting them somewhere is obviously yet another. This past weekend saw stranded passengers sleeping anywhere and everywhere they could find space in the terminals. Luggage makes for a lousy bed, I imagine.
I’m going to make another radical suggestion to help alleviate this problem. Whether it’s a blizzard, a hurricane, pilots going on strike or an airline going out of business, significant flight delays and cancellations happen often enough to justify creating facilities specifically for stranded passengers.
I’m not suggesting the Hyatt Regency, but an auditorium or similar facility with cots and some showers. You know, the basics.
Surely, this would cost money. But so do runways, parking garages and everything else at airports. I say, consider accommodating passengers in a bind part of the cost of doing business. Again, these things seem to happen often enough.
I am available as a consultant to the airlines and the FAA. My fee is negotiable, and very reasonable.