Passengers' Bill of Rights
There have been many calls by consumer advocates to pass a “Passengers’ Bill of Rights,” which would require airlines to provide certain basic amenities on their planes, and possibly to compensate passengers who have to sit on a runway for hours while their plane is delayed. Currently, no federal law has been passed instituting an airline passenger bill of rights.
New York passed an airline passenger bill of rights law which had many of the above protections. However, the law was overturned by a federal appeals court, on the grounds that only the federal government has the authority to regulate the airline industry.
In some cases, it might be possible for airline passengers to recover certain damages if they are stranded on a runway for a very long time. Some passengers have brought lawsuits against airlines for false imprisonment after they have been trapped on the runway for as long as nine hours. False imprisonment is the intentional or negligent confinement of a person to a closed space.
Some passengers have also sued airlines for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress for similar incidents. As of the writing of this article, most of these lawsuits are still in their early stages, so it remains to be seen how successful they will be.
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Last Modified: 12-21-2010 12:18 PM PST