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6/2/2010 17:25

While notifying customers of delays as soon as is feasibly possible is an admirable goal, I wonder if delays of 30 minutes would actually affect passenger behavior. In my experience it usually takes about 30 minutes to get to major airports, in which case, killing 30 minutes at home or at the airport makes little difference – especially when security lines make you leave way earlier than your expected flight. Maybe it would be a better use of the airlines resources to focus efforts on notifying passengers of delays that are 2 hours or more as soon as possible.

    6/5/2010 22:16

    As a very frequent traveler, the biggest issue is not having updated information about flight status. beyond that i believe that adding all of these unnecessary burdens to airlines often of which they have no control such as weather and unexpected mechanical problems is both costly and ridiculous. you would think that with the economic turndown, our society would abate their temper tantrams and demanding attitudes. let’s be civil to one another and not set unrealistic expectations–it costs money to accommodate your pampering and often results in unintended consequences such as the recent 3 hour tarmac limit. this will result in more flight cancellations. i wonder how many of you who complained about that and now have gotten what you asked for, will see yourselves as the cause of this ludicrous rule.

    6/6/2010 18:18

    Thanks for your comment. Does the rule address any other problems you have had as a frequent traveler?

    6/11/2010 02:09

    Last winter I had to make two round-trips to an airport in a blizzard to take family members for a flight posted as “on time”. They had non-refundable tickets and saw no option but to go or lose their money. Seven hours later their flight was canceled. I feel that, in this case, the airline acted in their own interest giving no thought to the impact on the passengers. Surely they had better information. That said, I don’t have a suggestion as I don’t know enough about airline information systems.

    6/11/2010 12:30

    Thanks for your comment. The DOT has proposed requiring updates within 30 minutes when there are known delays. In your case, this may have helped your family. The DOT is also considering specifying the methods carriers have to use for updates, which would include weather conditions. Do you think requiring uniform standards of disclosure would help avoid the situation your family faced?

6/2/2010 23:13

What good will notifying a person of a delayed or cancelled flight be if the airline is not required to rebook the person? After being stranded in Mexico with the US airline refusing to rebook due to me having a discounted ticket, I feel this rule falls way too short. Make the airlines tell you about cancelled/ delayed flights and force them to rebook you on another flight or, if the delay will be greater than 24 hours, force them to rebook you with another carrier.

6/3/2010 01:00

Consumers should be notified about delays, no matter how long they are. This can be done electronically very easily. If the flight is late and making a connecting flight is not possible, then the consumer should be afforded the opportunity to alter plans as soon as possible.

I think it is important that both domestic and international flights be covered by this requirement.

6/3/2010 15:43

Hello and thank you for the opportunity to provide input on air travel procedures. As someone that once logged 100+ flights per year for many years, I have experienced both the best and the worst of what air travel can provide.

I would like to offer some insights that hopefully will expand the scope of the regulation you are considering vis-à-vis airline-passenger communication. From a passenger perspective, I believe there are actually three deficiencies that drive the current communication problem, and resulting shortcomings in the system: (1) There is a major disconnect in information between gate agents and reservation agents; (2) There is no prompt communication between the airline and the passenger (as you correctly note here); and (3) There is no way to guarantee re-booking or re-routing, without penalty, without going to the airport. As a result, even when there is a high likelihood that a flight will be canceled, passengers go to the airport, often at significant expense, then must wait in long lines, causing havoc inside the airport, and creating the inefficient system that we are all familiar with. I believe these three together are the source of the problem and would like to illustrate this with a brief example:

This winter, I had a vacation booked to Colorado to ski. On the day of travel there was heavy snow in New York City. To me it was obvious that my flight would be canceled. However, despite repeated calls to the airline, I was assured that the flight was showing to depart on-time (Problems 1 and 2). However, knowing that if the flight did leave, even if that were 5 hours later, I would face a steep re-booking expense (change fee plus fare difference!), I went to the airport regardless (Problem 3). Upon arrival at the airport, and after checking my skis curbside, my fears were of course confirmed, the flight had been canceled, and there were long lines at all of the agent counters and the gates. I then waited in line for an hour, re-booked, waited another hour to collect my bag, and returned home. The monetary expense for me was $150 in cab rides and tips, and 5 hours in time, and one day of lost skiing. None of which was claimable/reimbursable.

So, I would like to suggest oversight/regulation of the following: (1) Airlines should be required to invest in systems that streamline information so that information among their reservations agents is as current as it is at the gate; (2) In addition to notifying passengers about their flight promptly (30 minutes sounds reasonable), there should be earlier, and more frequent communication about overall “Airport Health” on the day of travel. For example, just letting a passenger know about his/her flight in advance does not necessarily help at all. If that communication comes less than 90 minutes before departure, it is outside of the window in which a passenger can react: he/she is already on the way to the airport. However, if an earlier communication were: “Due to heavy snow, all flights this morning have been departing 1-2 hours behind schedule. Please prepare for delays/possibility of cancellation. We will provide another status update in one hour.” This is a communication that a passenger can thoughtfully incorporate into his/her planning. Finally, (3) Rules should be developed defining the conditions under which a passenger can rebook without charge. Perhaps if the flight is going to be delayed more than 3 hours, it is better for the passenger and the airline to let a passenger rebook. Sometimes the flight is overbooked anyway.

I believe further consideration of the above collectively would result in a far better passenger experience, and more efficient airline management. Thank you for considering my input. RK

    6/3/2010 18:41

    I have found I am adequately notified before I leave home if a flight is known to be delayed/canceled that far in advance. I check the flight status on the airline website just prior to leaving home–additionally my airline sends me a text and an email for delays. My concern is the flights that get delayed or cancelled later such as after you have arrived at the airport. In these cases notification should be immediate–and every effort to get you on your way should be made–whether it is 30 minute updates for a delay–or getting you on another flight if is a cancellation. If you need to rebook due to no fault of your own–the flight is canceled, etc. there should be no or very minimal fees to rebook you for another flight. My experience has been the airlines need to do all in their power to get you on your way in the most expedient way possible AND to CARE. Delays and cancellations cannot always be helped and are part of everyday business for airlines but when a consumer misses an entire day of a vacation and/or planned time with family that cannot be given back!! This is more than money. Twice my flights wer delayed by several hours because after boarding it was discovered a lavatory was not in working order (could the airline maybe check the lavatories BEFORE boarding the plane?). Sorry if I got a little off track–I get passionate about not being treated well–especially when airline travel is expensive for most passengers.

    6/3/2010 19:48

    Thanks for your thoughts Keiserrgx.

    One question DOT asks is what method carriers should use for their updates. Since it seems you fly often, how would you like to receive information updates? Do you think all carriers should use a single method?

    What do others think? Are Keiserrgx’s problems faced by others?

    7/19/2010 22:51

    I would agree with the 3 points in this post cited as the main flight status communication issues: (1) There is a major disconnect in information between gate agents and reservation agents; (2) There is no prompt communication between the airline and the passenger; and (3) There is no way to guarantee re-booking or re-routing, without penalty, without going to the airport and waiting in long lines. I had a long delay in May at O’Hare, spent several hours waiting in 5 different lines – 2 of those lines were to use the automated kiosks at the “Customer Service Center” that had exactly zero personnel of the airline there to help (and 4 of the 7 kiosks were not working). When the kiosk said it couldn’t change my flight, I used the attached phone to call the airline, and was told they could do for me what the kiosk was “not smart enough to be able to do” (airline’s words) but they would have to charge me for doing it on the phone, or I could go to the gate and have it done for no charge. Problem was, my gate and most other gates had no airline agents at them. I have had this experience a number of times before over the last several years. The communication was terrible and the only was to change my fully refundable, fully changeable ticket was to pay the airline.

6/3/2010 19:01

Such notifications are “nice” for relatively short delays (2 hours or less say). Often however they don;t know how long a flight will be delayed if it is a mechanical issue or if thunderstorms have caused a back up of landing/take-off traffic. The problem becomes more of “in which situations is a notice required” vice how long/early should they notify people. That isn’t addressed here.
Bottom line, I think this idea needs a lot more consideration and thought before going forward.

    6/3/2010 20:40

    Welcome to regulation room and thanks for trying to discuss these difficult issues.

    How you try to address the issue of for which situations notice should be required?

    Do others think that this a problematic area of the proposed regulation?

    6/23/2010 14:00

    That’s the problem with regulations like this. There are so many reasons why a flight might be delayed and each of them has a great variance in how long it may take to resolve that issuing a blanket rule would cause as many problems as it solves.

6/4/2010 00:11

Yes, 30 min delay is a reasonable trigger. Yes, 30 min response time limit is reasonable, but special circumstances should be included, i.e., technical issues as breakdown of comms etc. DOT should mention “all available methods” – that is okay. This rule should apply to all domestic airlines; foreing might be excluded.

    6/8/2010 05:41

    It’s unclear to me why foreign airlines should be excluded from this rule.

6/4/2010 01:44

It has become abundantly clear that commercial airline travel is a “race to the bottom” that satisfies needs of neither passengers nor airline profits. A change of environment, which can only be imposed from outside the industry is needed. Imposition of common sense regulations, such as a requirement that airlines give updated flight information, would level the playing field and remove the impetus for airlines to cost-cut in this area. The results would be better service to customers and a renormalization of the playing field from which the airlines compete without fear of being undercut. This goes for most of the proposed new regulations. I sincerely believe that these regulations are in the best interests of both airlines and passengers.

    7/15/2010 14:06

    Just a quick point: the DOT got the idea of flight notifications from the airlines themselves, so I wouldn’t be so quick to discount the incentive that customer satisfaction plays to airlines. Here is an excerpt from the proposed rule: “Carriers recognize the importance of timely and accurate flight information, as evidenced by the fact that many of the largest U.S. carriers promise through their customer service plans to provide passengers all known information about delays and cancellations as soon as they become aware of the issue” (48). Any business which intends to survive has to satisfy its customers, otherwise the customers will simply stop buying their product, and the business will go bankrupt. Airlines themselves already thought up flight status notifications because there was customer demand for them.

    I find it interesting that you claim neither passengers nor profits to be benefiting from the current state of air transit affairs. Now, air fare is affordable (prices of air fares have decreased 25% since 1991) and more available to citizens than ever before. Airlines like Southwest are benefiting exactly because they are offering low fares, serving their customer needs, which would seem to disprove your statement that both profits and passengers suffer in the status quo.

    7/19/2010 12:54

    Thanks for your valuable input, sofiem. Do you have a source for your price decrease statistic? The DOT can only use publicly available data in making its decisions.

6/5/2010 15:49

I have no problem requiring the airlines to give notification of any “known” delays within 30 minutes of when they become aware of it.BUT, being a frequent traveler, I see all sorts of problems which are unavoidable and for which the airlines will be blamed by giving such notice with the intend that some flyers may be able to delay thier trip to the airport or even the departure gate. I know that many times the airlines can’t also know exactly when a weather hold or a maintenance issue will be rectified and that the flight is then ready to go. Many time it can be surprisingly faster than expected. The problem is that some flyers may then wait before going to the airport, but then find that the problem was rectified sooner than expected and the flight departed. Of course the flyer and the flyers rights organization will then crucify the airlines for such poor planning. Flyers need to grow up and quit pouting and blaming everthing on the airlines. They can’t have it both ways.

    6/5/2010 16:06

    This raises an interesting point: should rules include the right of airlines to take off should the problem become fixed more quickly than expected? Should airlines give an estimated length of delay but require passengers to arrive at the gate half an hour or an hour before that, in case the issue is resolved quickly?

    6/8/2010 05:45

    I really like keiserrgk’s idea that airlines should give a notice like ““Due to heavy snow, all flights this morning have been departing 1-2 hours behind schedule. Please prepare for delays/possibility of cancellation. We will provide another status update in one hour.”

    In response to your question about an airline’s right to take off should the problem become fixed more quickly than expected, I’m not sure how I feel about that, considering that an airline probably wouldn’t allow a passenger in that situation to rebook for free.

    7/15/2010 14:09

    Not to be too picky, but if it’s snowing heavily outside, do you really need the airline to send a notice to tell you that it’s snowing? Are airlines now our weather services, as well? It seems a little silly.

    6/18/2010 00:59

    I would like to add on to Javier’s comment. It is true that the quality of delay information is not always within the airline’s control. Often, when the FAA institutes the practice of “metering” due to weather or high volume, the airline really can’t advise the customers of the reason for a delay. In fact, in order to retain the right to take off, the airlines are required to load the plane and sit on the tarmac while the FAA figures out how to route traffic.

    Furthermore, having listened to ground control/tower communications on United flights, it’s clear that the controllers can give an estimated delay, but that delay is subject to change. Again, the airline’s information is only as good as the FAA’s information – and, well, the situation is fluid.

    To that end, DOT’s rule must consider that FAA’s traffic management practices and procedures might necessarily inhibit airlines’ ability to comply with such regulations.

    6/18/2010 01:55

    Thank you for your comment. How may the DOT consider FAA’s traffic practices and procedures? And, as a customer, do you think that requiring airlines to broadcast ground control/tower communications may help?

6/11/2010 19:21

I’ve long believed that airlines purposely don’t announce delays because of the consequences of doing so. If a flight is delayed due to weather the airline has no obligation to provide any remedy to the affected passengers. Whereas a delay due to a mechanical problem may require compensation or accommodation be made. Why would an airline want to make an announcement that is a signal to passengers to request compensation?

    6/11/2010 20:47

    Thank you for your comment. What do you think of DOT’s proposal that airlines be required to promptly notify passengers of delays of 30 minutes or more? Do you think it would be effective?

6/13/2010 05:28

The notification isn’t so much a problem at most airports. The electronic boards are usually updated minute by minute. The problem is that the airlines will say “Flight 100, delayed till 7:00pm.” then “Flight 100, delayed till 7:05pm”. And so on and so forth. They’re notifying everyone…with completely useless information. Forcing them to do so more frequently isn’t going to fix a thing. Forcing them to come up with an accurate estimate is what is needed.

    6/14/2010 16:02

    Thank you for your comment. Do you have any suggestions for how to enforce/provide incentive for airlines to give accurate estimates? Would you for example support certain penalties?

    7/15/2010 14:11

    Here is an incentive: if a customer is dissatisfied with flight notifications, they ought to take their business elsewhere. Wouldn’t that be an appropriate message to airlines that don’t notify their passengers?

7/13/2010 08:41

On a recent trip from Wa state to Michigan, every single flight (two out, two back) was late by at least a half hour, resulting in missed connections both ways. When the airport is more than two hours away, notifying passengers of a potential half hour delay won’t significantly change whether they head for the airport or not.
However, in retrospect, I would have LOVED to know the following when booking flights: 1) airline’s yearly on time percentage; 2) airline’s passenger satisfaction rating. Personally, if I’m going to be treated like cattle, I’d just as soon be happy cattle.
Air travel has turned into such a frustrating exercise (hidden fees, late flights, no water, no food, no service) that we look for reasons not to go air. Frankly, if I have to live with such delays, I’d just as soon do it on a train. THEY are still fun, despite their delays.

    7/13/2010 11:57

    Thank you for your comment. This type of information would likely be useful to passengers, but collecting it may come at a cost to consumers due to increased flight costs. To what degree is this an acceptable expense?

    7/19/2010 23:01

    Some airline websites (United’s for example) provide the % of time the flight is on-time, such as in the “flight details” pop-up in the list of flights when you are shopping. If not, this information is available to the public on

    7/19/2010 23:22

    Several of the reasons cited for delays are air traffic control and late arriving aircraft. Air traffic in a couple key spots in this country is congested, in part, because airlines are flying more smaller planes rather than fewer larger planes – to carry the same amount of passengers. This takes up more landing slots. Why do they do this?
    1) Planes are charged landing fees based on weight, and therefore it can be cheaper to land 2 smaller, lighter planes rather than one larger, heavier plane.

    2) Airlines are worried that if they swap out 2 lighter planes for 1 heavier plane, then another airline will come in and take the landing slot and offer an extra flight of its own and siphon off passengers. Airlines worry that if they don’t offer the most frequent flights, packed especially into the most desired times for business travelers, their competition will. This leads to an inefficient bunching of many flights on somewhat smaller planes at peak times, leading to congestion and delays.

    The government should change the basis on which landing fees are calculated as a start toward dis-incentivizing these practices. 1) The landing fees should not be based primarily on weight, but rather should be based on the fact that the plane is using a landing slot, with only some consideration given to the weight of the aircraft. That would encourage airlines to choose larger planes that can carry more people with less per-person environmental impact and fewer overall landing slots, reducing delays. 2) The landing fees should be somewhat greater at peak times of day to encourage airlines to spread out their flights more, thereby reducing congestion and delays.

    7/20/2010 11:17

    Thank you for the comment mcheung. You bring up some interesting suggestions. What are the possible implications of these suggestions; will they disproportionately impact smaller aircarriers who only have small planes? What effect will it have on the number of flights offered during peak hours?

7/18/2010 12:43

Airlines should require a gate agent to give hourly status or tell passengers when to return to the gate for status.

I endured an all-day wait without being advised of status. We were scheduled for an 8am departure. Gate personnel advised us of mechanical problems and said to check back at 10am. At 9am, a gate agent advised maybe a 11am boarding (people who did not arrive till 10am per prior instruction never heard that announcement). After that NO ONE gave us status. It was 6pm before we found out the flight was canceled by calling the airlines. The notice on the departure boards and at the gate said “delayed”… a gate agent never gave us status after 9am!

A fellow passenger happened to work at this airline, so he made some calls and was able to get status from the maintenance crew… the maintenance chief said his estimated time of fix was 5PM – maybe. If some “official” from the airline had done the same thing, the passengers could have done something else for those many hours rather than hang around the airport, checking the departures board for status. Also no compensation given…but that’s another discussion. No, it would not have changed the delay/cancellation situation, but if an agent had said check back in x number of hours, then actually come to the gate at that time, people could have done something else. I’ve worked in customer service before. Customers want to know what’s happening if only to be told “this is the problem, we’re still working on it…”

7/19/2010 13:24

Aren’t we spending too much time debating what airlines should be doing when things go wrong, and spend some time figuring out how to avoid things going wrong? Why is it that congested European airports don’t have the same tarmac delays that US airports have? What about Japan or Canada or …? Not saying the Europeans or the Japanese or the Canadians have a magic solution, but what are they doing differently so they avoid the horrors of US airports?

    7/19/2010 16:46

    Don’t forget the obvious reasons they don’t do better; no enlightened effective regulation; executive compensation; union rules; airport and FAA inefficiencies; monopoly status (no other way to get there quickly); ultimately the bottom line (quest for profitability – short-term vs long-range thinking).

7/19/2010 16:34

1. 30 minutes is too long; you say the majority leave within 14 minutes so set the beginning info as 15 minutes with 30 minute updates unless a resolution is known sooner.
2. Specify notification be by all methods available at the airport involved, including ticket agents, with the customer additionally specifying how they are to be notified at home; email, phone, FAX.
3. All commercial flights should be
4. Include the primary reason: bad weather-locally; bad weather-enroute; bad weather at destination; etc.

7/19/2010 20:02

I second keiserrgx’s comments. The delays I have experienced have been due to work actions. It would be nice if the regulation could apply to U.S. airlines departing from foreign airports as well as domestic flights.

7/20/2010 11:32

TELL THE TRUTH immediately, boys, and treat passengers like valued human beings. That’s it.

Southwest does it, and they have the most loyal passengers in the industry. It CAN be done, if you have the will to do it. The price SW shows online is the REAL price, not a teaser fare that shoots up rapidly when the taxes, fees, surcharges, etc. are added. SW does not charge me nuisance fees (baggage, changing a reservation, one-way flights, etc.). If they can do it, so can the rest of you. I just wish BWI were closer to the Northern VA location I frequent, so I could use SW all the time.

I fly at least once every week, usually between Columbus, OH and the DC area. During the past year the Sunday night delays on USAir (DCA-CMH), United (IAD-CMH), and even SW (BWI-CMH) in that order have been abismal, with delays at LEAST 30-50% of the time. When cancellations were made, passengers weren’t told until 5-10 minutes before departure. These have mostly been mechanical problems (clearly avoidable with better management), crew shortages, and non-severe weather. Efficient, effective management would prevent the vast majority of these problems.

One brief example will illustrate. On Sunday, June 13 I was scheduled on US3234 DCA-CMH at 4:55 pm. When I arrived at the gate the plane and crew were there. Good start, eh? At about 10 min. before boarding time the gate agent said they’d made a minor repair to the plane, but the paperwork had not arrived from BRAZIL! “We’ll know more in 30 minutes.” This went on until after 7 pm, at which time I re-booked for the next morning and went home. The plane did eventually fly, 3 hours late, but meanwhile I’ve wasted 5 hours sitting at an overheated, overcrowded, hopelessly noisy National Airport because USAir can’t get paperwork faxed from BRAZIL. Why did it have to come from Brazil? Why don’t they have back up plans/management solutions for such routine problems. They are bound to occur. Plan for it and head off these problems.

During last winter’s blizzards in the East, SW was the only airline that told the truth and notified us many hours in advance that flights were cancelled. United and USAir constantly insisted the flights were going, when in fact they were not.

If the carriers want the privilege of using our air space and our public airports (supported with tax-payer subsidies), they should be held to this standard. TELL THE TRUTH AS SOON AS YOU KNOW IT, and fix the problem promptly if it’s anything other than severe weather that is truly beyond your control. PERIOD. Why wait 30 minutes unnecessarily?

    7/20/2010 11:48

    Thank you for your comment cochranels. You raise a good point about disclosure, many of the proposed rule changes would require additional mechanisms for disclosure of new information to consumers. How do you think this can best be done. Should airlines be required to display information about flight/fare changes only on their website? Should third party ticket sellers also be required to disclose new information to consumers?

7/20/2010 17:11

Regarding delays…..I think 1 hour prior would be great in case you are running late or trying to decide if you should get a bite to eat before boarding. This would relieve a lot of stress. Best experience in bad weather would be with Jet Blue out of Kennedy. Twice in the past 3 years I have called the evening before a big storm (due within 8-10 hrs) and they gladly changed my flight to the next day with no penalties. They said knowing travel conditions would be bad, the fewer flyers on storm day the better. So I was extremely happy with that and would like to see all airlines accommodate customers this way. Noting – I didn’t cancel my trip, just moved it to the next day (I had found an open flight before I called).

7/22/2010 11:55

30-minute delay seems reasonable. I just experienced that our of Charlotte, Va. two days ago. U.S. Airways was quite prompt in notifying us of the closure of Washington-National airport due to thunderstorms. In all I was delayed 60 minutes but informed at the gate over the loudspeaker approximately every 15-30 minutes.
Standardizing methods for updates is a good idea. Hard as this may be to believe not every one carries a cell phone or other pda. So airlines should, at the very minimum, continually update on their flight information screens throughout the airport and at the gate along with loud speaker updates at the gate area. Yes, ALL flights should be covered by this notification requirements, small or big, domestic or foreign. It would allow consumers to notify waiting parties at the other end of the flight, hotels, car rental companies, etc.

7/25/2010 19:12

I would appreciate getting informed as early as possible, 30 minutes or less. On my last trip, I had over 5 hours total delay and when I questioned the ground staff, I received the standard answer of “I don’t know”. Airlines should be held accountable for the inattentiveness to customer service.

7/30/2010 13:05

More than a thirty-minute notice seems essential now that passenger are required to be at the airport an hour to two in advance of their flight. However, requiring advance notice by all and every means is an excellent idea and a new regulation I support.

7/30/2010 23:12

I am not sure how possible this is to implement. I agree the airlines should notify, but I generally have not had a bad experience due to checking status online and using tools freely available for cell phones.

8/2/2010 20:34

30 minutes seems reasonable – how hard can it be to set up a system that updates the website and the automated phone system (both of which should be required) as soon as a delay is known. And if that information system can’t handle it then it should be fixed.

8/5/2010 00:52

I don’t think the airlines should have to report delays of less than 30 minutes (we assume most flights will be late in leaving) but they should have to give updates faster than within 30 minutes of the information becoming available. That would at least give passengers time to eat, go to the bathroom, buy extra water, rather than hanging at the gate mistakenly thinking the flight will board any minute, and also allow people planning to pick up arriving passengers without parking to better time their arrival.

8/7/2010 17:44

I think 30 min is reasonable. I don’t really know but most of the notification seems electronic which is type a short notice and push send? Seems not too complicated.Many airlines will also notify your cell email whatever if you have it in their frequent flier info. That would also be helpful Also many of us live 1-2 hours from major airports and the info would be very helpful. A flight is a flight. The rule should apply to all.

8/29/2010 09:51

Airlines should not be allowed to lie about delays and cancellations of flights.

8/29/2010 10:44

I think there are few people who would change plans for a delay of less then 30 minutes. Heck, it takes me almost an hour to get to the airport as it is.

And there are times when a 30 minute delay ends up only being 20 minutes. Now the 1 person who sat at home another 30 minutes might make what would be a 20 minute delay a 30 minute delay.

I think 1 hour would be a better trigger then 30 minutes.

For updates that could be required I think the airlines should allow the customers choose how to be updated. When booking airfare they can enter email address and phone number and choose if they want a phone call, text message or email about the delay.

8/29/2010 10:51

Tarmac delays are airline and employee incompetence. True weather delays are understandable but the rest point to ineptitude and a lack of service oriented culture. Airlines should be forced to refund passage for major delays and cancellations which include maintenance issues, late crews, baggage and gate employee incompetence.

8/29/2010 11:12

The real problem here is not the airline it is long TSA lines and requirements to be at the gate one to two hours ahead of time. Check in lines are ridiculous and making you do everything at the gate creates gridlock.

    8/31/2010 00:12

    Thanks for your comment. What tasks do you think could be performed elsewhere (such as from your home computer) to reduce the severity of this problem?

8/29/2010 11:40

I strongly support any provision that would provide air travelers with additional timely information regarding flight delays.
In many cases a traveler may need to make other plans to reach his or her destination, and the lack of information regarding flight delays may limit his or her ability to do so.

    8/31/2010 00:11

    Thanks for your comment. How frequently do you think updates should be given?

8/29/2010 12:48

An hour would be better .

8/29/2010 13:10

Due to the many causes for delays, it is important to have guaranteed delay times. For example, we are told that there will be an update at 45 minutes past the hour, only to see it move up or back depending on the repair, clearing of weather, arrival of the crew, or other factor. If there was a specific time locked in, you could go to another area assured that information would be honored and the flight could proceed on a known schedule.

    8/31/2010 00:13

    Thanks for your comment! Would you favor a flight sticking to an announced delay schedule, even if subsequently became possible for the flight to take off earlier than the announced time?

8/29/2010 16:17

As a frequent flier, I appreciate the intent of this rule to provide good information to passengers. My carrier of choice, Delta, generally does a good job of this and within the 30 minute time frame suggested so that seems reasonable. I have 3 concerns around these issues….

1) It is common in a delay situation to have 2 or 3 conflicting pieces of information – one on the airport boards (controlled by the airport), one on the gate information screen (controlled by the airline as I understand), and then a third version when I call the airline or receive an update text. I’d like the rule to include as much as possible the notion of consistent information.

2) My second concern is that when a delayed departure/arrival time is provided, the quality of that information can vary greatly. If you’re waiting for a plane that’s already in the air, the time is probably pretty good. If the plane is still on the ground, that time is generally more subject to change. If you’re waiting for crew, you’re stuck if not at a hub, but someone else can often be found at a hub so a delayed time may be moved earlier again. Is there a way to provide some metric of the quality of information?

3) What if a delayed departure can be moved earlier for some reason? I wouldn’t want a rule to mean the airline cannot find another plane and move the departure time earlier than the prior announcement? What responsibility would passengers AND airlines have in cases like this?

8/30/2010 09:23

There are times when it is obvious to the airline and passengers that a flight is going to be canceled (hurricane,blizzard,etc) and yet the airline often requires passengers to arrive at the airport in order to “qualify” for rebooking or refund. It would make more sense that in order to avoid misery at the airport (for both airline personnel and passengers) airlines should allow passengers to rebook or refund when a cancellation or severe delay is imminent. I’m sure that an algorithm can be developed and supported by software to create a baseline for appropriate situations.

8/30/2010 16:44

All flights with more than 15 passenger seats ought to provide update information within 30 minutes. On a small plane out of Springfield, no notice was provided about delay until I got to the airport. That did not give me enough time to make alternative arrangements to catch my next flight.

8/30/2010 19:27

Hey, teabaggers, consider this: Without government control, businesses can, and will, do whatever they please, no matter how bad it is for their cusomers. THAT’S WHY WE NEED REGULATIONS LIKE THIS!
I, for one, don’t mind seeing tax dollars go for this purpose!

    8/31/2010 00:15

    Thank you for your comment. What sort of flight status update requirements would you favor? Is 30 minutes soon enough? How often do you think airlines should be required to give new updates?

9/1/2010 10:08

I think that 30 minutes would be appropriate for notification. However, my concern would be for how this would work in changing conditions. What would happen if the airline were able to shorten the delay? For example, if a mechanical problem is fixed faster than expected. Would the flight be required to be delayed for as long as posted?

9/5/2010 17:55

My worst experiences with notifications have been “after hours” at some airports, when most of the staffs have left and nobody seems to be minding the store. I arrive to pick up someone from a flight and cannot even get info on the status boards by the gates or security.

So, yes, I think airlines should keep up their end of the deal until all their flights are FINISHED for the day! If flights are late coming or going, airline staff need to stay with it.

Airline Passenger Rights "Flight status information"

Agency Proposal
By the Regulation Room team based on the NPRM
Agency Documents
1 34


It’s a familiar story: You rush to the airport, you fidget in a slow-moving security line, you sprint to the gate — only to discover that the flight is delayed. And no one is saying why or how long. Or worse, the flight has been canceled. DOT Department of Transportation is now considering new regulations that would require the major airlines to give the public prompt notice of delays, cancellations, and updates for domestic flights — although what “prompt” means, and how this information can best get to travelers are open questions.

This post will tell you more about what the problems have been, and what solutions DOT Department of Transportation is considering – and alert you to questions DOT particularly wants people to comment on.

2 0 The Problem:

In 2009, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), 10-11% of flights nationwide were more than 30 minutes late in departing or arriving. (These percentages vary a lot by airport and carrier. Check out the data.) When timely information about delays and cancellations isn’t available, passengers can’t make decisions about alternate travel plans, and people dropping off or picking up passengers make pointless trips to the airport or face long waits that could have been avoided.

3 0 The Proposed Solution:

Major US airlines would be required to promptly notify people of flight cancellations, or delays of 30 minutes or more on domestic flights. (These airlines account for about 90% of all domestic passengers. See the list.) If the flight was further delayed by 30 minutes or more, additional notice would have to be given.

DOT is currently thinking that “prompt” means “as soon as possible, but no later than 30 minutes after the carrier becomes aware or should have become aware of a change in the status of the flight.” The airline would have to provide the information by all the means it generally uses to notify passengers — e.g., website, telephone notices, gate display screens and announcements. DOT Department of Transportation is not currently planning to require any new or additional forms of getting the information out.

For information methods controlled by someone else (e.g., general arrival/departure information boards at airports), the airlines’ responsibility would be to get status updates to the appropriate person in charge within 30 minutes.

4 32 What DOT Department of Transportation wants to know from you:

Is a 30-minute delay the right trigger for update requirements? How important is it for consumers to get information about shorter delays? Would having to provide such information unreasonably burden carriers? (Based on BTS data, the majority of domestic flights arrive or depart within 14 minutes of their scheduled time.)

Does requiring the updates within 30 minutes of when the information becomes available to the carrier give passengers enough lead time? Could carriers reasonably be expected to act faster?

Should DOT Department of Transportation specify the methods carriers have to use for updates, rather than leaving it up to each airline?

Should more flights be covered by the notification requirement? The current proposal would not apply to smaller US carriers, or to any international flights of either US or foreign carriers.

See what DOT Department of Transportation said on this issue: NPRM Section 10.

See the proposed rule text on this issue:  Section 234.11.

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