FlyersRights.org 2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
February 15, 2010
Kate Hanni, Executive Director
Frederick Foreman PHD Research Director
159 Silverado Springs Drive, Napa, CA 94558
(707) 337-0328
FlyersRights.org
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Executive Summary
This report card is based on government statistics, press reports, airline website data, FlyersRights hotline reports, and eye witness accounts provided by our coalition members for the period from January 2009 through December 2009.
Released on the eve of the third anniversary of the infamous St. Valentine’s Day 2007 Ice Storm and horrific airline tarmac strandings that resulted, conditions have not gotten any better for airline passengers. Even with an enormous drop in air travel due to the economy, airlines continue to strand passengers on tarmacs without food, water, access to medical facilities and with overflowing toilets and lack of access to medications.
Fortunately, some progress has been made. On December 21st 2009 the DOT announced their enforceable version of a 3 hour rule, as ordered by President Obama in an executive order of the same date. And the outlook is good for some form of Congressional legislation to pass early this year. They also announced a new 2nd rulemaking that will further enhance the rights of airline passengers which FlyersRights.org and the public will be able to contribute to by commenting once posted to the DOT docket.
The goals of the Coalition for an Airline Passenger’s Bill of Rights follow:
1) What’s Possible:
a. That airline passengers’ general well being and needs are provided for by all airlines.
2) What We Intend as an Outcome:
a. Legislation to hold airlines accountable to honoring basic passenger rights
b. When CAPBOR Scorecards indicate excellence in Customer Service, Honesty and Execution of the newly defined minimum standards
Additional Information
Although our prior report cards have decidedly focused on government data for those reporting air carriers; now we have a rule through DOT that will protect domestic passengers on those reporting air carriers and other flights with 30 seats or more. So this new report card focuses primarily on airlines that report either no performance data to the U.S. Department of transportation such as international flights, or those flights with less than 1% of the GDS that are not required to report time on the tarmac. The data included herein is empiracle data reported by passengers and media who have been on these planes reporting the amount of time they’ve been trapped without the ability to deplane, and media accounts that covered these events.
Codeshares
Decidedly we are incorporating code-shares in the statistics for their parent airline who are ultimately responsible for the results. In some cases we have combined these code shares with the major carriers who are their parent companies and who generally accept responsibility for those air carriers and their performance.
Airports: We are including an airport report card this year because it appears that many of these stranding events are repeated frequently at certain airports and these airports bear some responsibility for making gates available and for devising a plan to care for passengers who have been stuck on delayed aircraft on the tarmac. Airports play a significant role in the prevention of these issues and as you will see there are some predictable reasons why these events happen more frequently at certain airports.
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Report Card Contents
 The Real Story of Passenger Tarmac Strandings in 2009 What the Department of Transportation can’t tell consumers … they don’t have the data for international flights for Time on the Tarmac, and the data they do have cannot be verified … FlyersRights does.
 The Real Story of Government Tarmac and Delay Statistics What the DOT doesn’t tell consumers … padded airline schedules and defective statistics reporting. FlyersRights.org takes a different look at the data the DOT does collect.
 The Real Story behind Airline Contracts of Carriage, Food and Airline Water What the airlines won’t tell consumers … airline public relations departments write customer service plans, but their lawyers write the contracts of carriage. Flyersrights.org presents an analysis of the major carrier’s contracts of carriage, the availability of food during extended tarmac delays, and reproduces a media report from last year on the quality of airline water.
 FlyersRights.org 2009 Awards
o When You’re on the Ground, They Treat You Like Dirt
o Most Absurd Event
o Flying Fickle Finger of Fate
o My Heavens
 FlyersRights.org Department of Transportation and Air Transport Association Report Cards for 2009
 Department of Transportation Report Card
 Air Transport Association Report Card
 Airport Report Card
The Real Story of Passenger Tarmac Strandings in 2009
Since the government began collecting and reporting monthly airline performance data in 1995, they have not kept track of a wide variety of flights such as diversions, canceled flights, international flights, etc. We provide more detail on this later. To fill this gaping hole and give voices to disenfranchised stranded passengers, FlyersRights.org developed a hotline in June of 2007. Since then our hotline volunteers have handled thousands of calls from airline passengers that are stranded on tarmacs and victims of other airline customer service issues. In the following report cards, we present some of that data as well as reports from media outlets.
 Unreported Tarmac Delays Shows known tarmac strandings based on press reports and eyewitness accounts. DOT does not yet collect or report this data.
 Longest Known Tarmac Delays Lists worst known tarmac strandings based on press reports and eyewitness accounts. DOT does not collect or report this data.
 Crisis Management (During Extended Tarmac Delays) Based on both eyewitness accounts and press reports.
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FlyersRights.org 2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
Most Wanted:
FAA & DOT
Air Travel Ombudsman to be appointed to liase between passengers/DOT/FAA to ensure that all powers are aware of issues, trends and deceptive practices as reported by both employees of airlines and the flying public.
Fines imposed for tarmac stranding’s should be apportioned in part to the Flying public to help cover their losses during long tarmac delays, similar to the EU regulations and those of India
Unaccompanied Minors should be able to travel unmolested and the airlines should perform as committed to in their contract of carriage regarding the services they offer for unaccompanied minors including never leaving that child alone to find their way to a connecting flight and accommodating them per the COC
Fines should be imposed for every 24 hours a bag is not returned to it’s owner, and if folks need to replace items due to lost, damaged or pilfered items in baggage they should get reimbursed immediately upon providing receipts for said items
Any “Blue Ribbon Panel should include Kate Hanni as the Passengers’ Representative
DOT should have the authority to mediate individual complaints and monies should be appropriated to handle the increase in workload due to mediating every complaint that comes to DOT
FAA should consider the air travel ombudsman position to further show the flying public that the airlines are no longer their primary client, but that the safety of the passengers are tantamount to their success
The FAA should mandate that a portion of the AIP grants should be specifically allocated for the purchase of Co-Bus’s which will increase capacity near term until the modernization of the system can be completed
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FlyersRights.org 2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
Grad
e
Unreported Tarmac Delays 3+ Hours on Tarmac
(based on press and passenger accounts)
Flights
Spirit Airlines
Delta 510
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FlyersRights.org 2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
Grade
Unreported Tarmac Delays Continued
(based on press and passenger accounts)
Flights
AirTran
Air Tahiti
Virgin America
JFK/SFO 4
JFK/SFO 5
US Airways
Continental Airlines
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FlyersRights.org 2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
(We have changed our reporting to reflect total time in aircraft + time on the tarmac)
Grade
Longest Time on the Tarmac / Stranding (based on press and passenger accounts)
Hours
F
10 hours on aircraft, 6 hours on Tarmac Rochester – Continental Flight 2816 (Operated by ExpressJet) –Link Christin: (612-805-3079) http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/travel/minnesota/79825577.html
10+
Aggregated
F
12 hours in aircraft, 9 hours on the tarmac at Columbus Ohio: Air Tran flight 373 Terry Elkin January 28th 2009 Terry Elkin and his wife (740) 964-6693 http://www2.nbc4i.com/cmh/news/local/article/passengers_sit_in_plane_for_hours_after_icy_conditions/12285/
12 Aggregated
F
12 hours in aircraft, 9 hours overnight on tarmac. Sprit Airlines #268, Three different flights to Atlantic City – 9 hours overnight on tarmac) Passenger contact : Craig Contegiacomo (732-598-4473): http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/local&id=6816174
12 times 2
F
10 Hours in aircraft, 5 hours in basement cell in Columbia South Carolina: Delta Flight 510, Turks & Caicos to Atlanta diverted to Columbia SC. Passenger contact : Dr. Shawn O’brien: C: (608-770-2902)
http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2009/04/29/throw-this-stock-away.aspx
10
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F
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124087571331061425.html
10 hours in aircraft: American Eagle Flight 642, Colorado Springs to Dallas 7.5 hours on tarmac, Gorden McKracken (703-362-1144) (Must read story, horrifying on so many levels)
10
F
18 hours in the aircraft 4 hours on the tarmac in Portland – AeroMexico –
http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2009-01-23-aeromexico-stranded-portland_N.htm “Paramedics bring Big Macs to Passengers.
18
F
11 British Airways sat 11 hours at JFK on the tarmac only to be cancelled. They had no food, no water and no servicing of the toilets. Greg Nyilasy called media to report being held hostage but the reporter only wanted to cover domestic flights.
11
F
Air Jamaica 8 hours on tarmac at BWI: Passenger called ABC every hour to report the plane had not moved. Flight was canceled. http://www.wbaltv.com/news/22014551/detail.html
8
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The Real Story of Government Tarmac and Delay Statistics
Government Statistics available to consumers are flawed at best. What the DOT doesn’t tell consumers openly is that the criteria for reporting on time departures and arrivals has changed and it’s not in the consumer’s favor ex: padded airline schedules and defective statistics reporting as evidenced in the October, November and December Tarmac Delay statistics for diverted and canceled flights. The average consumer would not be able to cipher these statistics, even if they knew where to find them. FlyersRights.org takes a different look at the data the DOT does collect and reports it so that consumers have a better view of the real data not released in a viable way for consumers to interpret.
We have reason to believe that the statistics reported for October to December have inaccuracies and have alerted the DOT who has assured us of an audit. We have made a request of IG to do an audit also. The key issue is that statistics reported by the airlines for Oct. Nov. and Dec. would have the flying public believe that when a flight is diverted they will likely be allowed off of the plane to rest comfortably in an airport. This “flies” in the face of normal airline protocol for diverted flights. Hence we have requested an audit be prepared by BTS and the IG’s office to determine how many of those diverted flights actually allowed passengers off of them.
Tarmac Delays of 4+ Hours
Based on official BTS data or Taxi-out times, this report card compares 2006, 2007 and 2009 tarmac delays of four hours or more.
Scoring, 0 – 5 = A, 6 – 10 = B, 11 – 15 = C, 16 – 20 = D, 21 and higher = F. Every 21 is an F.
Most Tarmac Delays of Two Hours or More
Based on official BTS data for taxi-out times, this report card compares 2006, 2007 and 2009 tarmac delays of two hours or more.
Scoring is based on a percentage of completed flight operations: .00% – .04% = A .05% – .09% = B .10% – .14% = C .15% – .19% = D .20% and above = F
Fewest Tarmac Delays of Two Hours or More
Based on official BTS data, this report card compares 2006, 2007 and 2009 tarmac delays of two hours or more.
Scoring is based on a percentage of completed flight operations:
.00% – .04% = A .05% – .09% = B .10% – .14% = C
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.15% – .19% = D .20% and above = F
Padded Airline Schedules
Are airports getting further apart or are airlines improving on-time performance by padding schedules?
In 2006, scheduled flight times from LaGuardia or JFK to Reagan (DCA) or Dulles (IAD) in Washington, DC ranged from 59 to 101 minutes. According to government data, the distance from the two NY airports to DCA and IAD didn’t change between 2006 and 2009 – 213 and 228 miles respectively. Yet in 2009, the schedules for those same flights increased to between 63 and 111 minutes.
In October 2006 over 33% of flights from NYC to DC airports arrived late. In October 2009, only 10% were late. Average air time for these flights is 44 minutes, so the padding for these flights ranges from a reasonable 15 minutes to the absurd 67 minutes.
October 2006 – 1955 total flights
October 2009 – 1447 total flights
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FlyersRights.org 2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
Tarmac Delays of 4+ Hours
20071
20092
4-5
5+
Worst
Grade
4-5
5+
Worst
Grade
Frontier
1
0
N/A
A
1
0
N/A
A
Pinnacle
1
0
N/A
A
3
1
5:06
A
Hawaiian
0
0
N/A
A
0
0
N/A
A
Southwest
7
2
5:16
B
1
1
5:05
A
Skywest
5
1
6:8
B
3
0
N/A
A
Northwest
3
0
4:25
A
4
0
N/A
A
AirTran
2
1
5:27
A
2
0
N/A
A
Mesa
3
0
4:49
A
0
0
N/A
A
Alaska
1
0
4:11
A
0
0
N/A
A
American Eagle
9
0
4:57
B
1
5
5:35
B
United
18
7
6:22
D
9
2
5:37
C
Atlantic Southeast
0
0
N/A
A
11
1
5:22
C
ExpressJet
49
7
6:32
F
12
10
7:09
F
Continental
33
7
6:23
F
13
15
6:26
F
Delta
32
6
6:43
F
44
14
7:02
F
US Airways
26
2
5:17
F
27
2
6:33
F
JetBlue
13
11
7:15
D
44
7
6:07
F
American
20
1
5:25
D
22
2
5:40
F
Comair
11
1
5:22
B
18
7
6:14
F
TOTALS
234
46
215
67
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FlyersRights.org 2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
Fewest Tarmac Delays of Two Hours or More
2006
2007
2009
Grade
Hawaiian Airlines (0% of total f
lights)
0
1
0
A
Alaska Airlines (.01% of total flights)
27
20
16
A
Southwest Airlines (.02% of total flights)
218
270
206
A
Frontier Airlines (.03% of total flights)
29
46
34
A
Pinnacle (.05% of total flights)
N/A
101
134
B
Mesa Airlines (.06% of total flights)
164
207
157
B
Atlantic Southeast Airlines (.07% of total flights)
80
139
209
B
Northwest (.07% of total flights)
238
267
252
B
Air Tran (.09% of total flights)
171
207
248
B
** Effective 10/08 DOT changed reporting methodology
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FlyersRights.org 2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
Most Tarmac Delays of Two Hours or More
2006
2007
2009
Grade
American Eagle (.11% of total flights)
678
733
547
C
United (.12% of total flights)
884
778
580
C
US Airways (.12% of total flights)
545
702
545
C
American Airlines (.15% of total flights)
1206
1275
909
D
Delta (.16% of total flights)
410
778
738
D
Express Jet (.19% of total flights)
1135
1055
726
D
Comair (.20% of total flights)
222
415
397
F
Continental (.21% of total flights)
795
875
647
F
Jet Blue (.25% of total flights)
294
671
502
F
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The Real Story behind Airline Contracts of Carriage, Food and Airline Water
Contracts of Carriage
FlyersRights analyzed the contracts of carriage and customer service commitments for the major airlines. We found that while many of the airlines had posted all sorts of customer friendly policies in their customer service commitments, that these policies are completely voluntary and unenforceable by passengers. Only one carrier, Southwest, mentions the Customer Service Commitment in their contract of carriage as an integral extension to that contract.
“The Southwest Airlines Customer Service Commitment (CSC), attached as an Addendum hereto, is incorporated by reference in this Contract of Carriage. Carrier’s CSC further explains, augments, and expands upon Carrier’s policies, procedures, methods of operation, obligations, and dedication to Customer safety, service, and satisfaction.”
For this reason, we made an exception in the case of Southwest and considered their CSC in this evaluation.
Continental Airlines, following wide-scale stranding incidents in Houston in December, announced that they had incorporated policies in their customer service commitment that would enable passengers to deplane aircraft after 3 hours. And while their CSC does explain in great detail what they might do in such an event, any mention of this policy is conspicuously absent from their contract of carriage which says simply;
“CO will use reasonable efforts to provide food, water, lavatory facilities and medical attention, if needed, when an aircraft remains on the tarmac for an extended period of time without access to the terminal, consistent with Passenger and employee safety and security concerns.”
American Airlines mentions in their contract of carriage what they will do for passengers during a tarmac delay, but they immediately follow that by saying We are not responsible for any special, incidental or consequential damages if we do not meet this commitment.
Several airlines don’t even bother to discuss the matter of tarmac delays in their contracts of carriage; Alaska, Air Tran among them.
This report card grades each carrier’s Contract of Carriage in regard to what services are offered to stranded passengers.
Airline Food
We don’t grade the quality of airline food. We grade whether or not there’s enough food on board to feed hungry passengers in the event of a long tarmac delay. Gleaned from airline websites February 6, 2009, this report card alerts passengers to the types of flights they should ensure they bring their own food on-board. Shorter flights of less than 1.5 hours are notorious for having little or no essential needs available, while at the same time spending hours on airport tarmacs. This report card shows red spaces for those flights on which the most risk exists to have no food on board. Yellow is used where only snacks are available (pretzels, chips, etc.), usually consisting of too few calories to make a difference in an extended delay. Green indicates that a meal is available. Question marks are used for prices where carrier’s website does not publish prices or indicate whether provisions are complimentary. Scoring is red space = 2 pts, yellow = 1 pt, green = 0. Rating 8-7=F, 6-5=D, 4-3=C, 2-1=B, 0=A.
We found some websites that were contradictory. For example, Northwest Airlines website says in one place that;
“Northwest has discontinued meal service on most domestic flights and eliminated many special meals. We recommend that you bring your own food and beverages with you.”
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While elsewhere they describe what they do provide. We gave them the benefit of the doubt here.
Airline Water: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/publicnotification/pdfs/guide_publicnotification_pnhandbook.pdf
People with severely compromised immune systems, infants, and some elderly may be at increased risk. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.
.In 2009 the EPA created a final rule to force airlines to test their drinking water to ensure it’s not contaminated, however the testing mandates are infrequent and the airlines may choose the facility they want to test their water and the facility does not have to be certified by EPA. No checks and balances…therefore FlyersRights.org recommends DON’T DRINK THE WATER. Take bottled water or drink sodas.
On Thursday, February 14, 2009, KGO – San Francisco published an article on information they gathered through the Freedom of Information Act. They found that “fewer than half the airlines ordered as early as 2005 to begin testing their water have done so. Meantime, it’s clear that some water on planes is contaminated.”
“In 2004, tests conducted on 327 planes by the Environmental Protection Agency found 15-percent of the aircraft evaluated had water contaminated with coliform.” “Coliform bacteria can indicate that the water has been contaminated and it could be contaminated by something that can make people sick,” explains June Weintraub, an epidemiologist with the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
In fact, since 2005, 45 airlines have signed orders agreeing to test the water on those planes. But through the Freedom of Information Act, we discovered only 16 of those airlines have actually released results of those tests. Those tests results show water samples taken from 2,200 aircraft found coliform 10-percent of the time. Meantime, 29 airlines either haven’t completed or begun their first round of testing or haven’t released their test results.
Delta, Continental, Northwest and United have released test results. However, American and US Airways are refusing to allow their data to be made public, claiming the results are “confidential business information.
Among the major airlines that have released data, 12-percent of the 323 planes tested by Delta over two years came back positive with coliform contaminated water. Delta says the overwhelming majority of its water samples came back negative. Sampling on Continental revealed 16-percent of the 883 aircrafts tested found water contaminated with coliform. The airline believes that data is seriously inflated due to faulty testing procedures it is now working to improve.
Other averages inclu
de Northwest at 4-percent and United at 5.6-percent. United says it provides bottled water for brushing teeth and antiseptic napkins with every meal. Northwest says keeping its water supply free from contamination is a top priority.
According to the EPA, the tolerance for coliform in water is zero.
“We don’t like to see any bacteria, especially coliform bacteria, in potable water, and especially not water that’s being served to passengers,” says Solomon.
A regional East Coast airline that served 12 million passengers in 2006 had the highest rate of positive tests for coliform — 49-percent of the 84 aircraft tested by Atlantic Southeast contained water samples testing positive for coliform. The airline says if it detects coliform; it deactivates the water system until the problem is cleared.
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“What you need on board an airplane in every restroom is a little placard on the wall that when they do the testing, they sign off on it and they tell you that the water is clean,” says Wilson.
We’ve compiled all the data we’ve obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, including test results from each airline and a list of the airlines that have not yet completed or even begun testing. View the data below.
AIRLINES THAT HAVE NOT MADE THEIR WATER TEST RESULTS AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC:
 American Airlines
 US Airways
These airlines have submitted test results to the Environmental Protection Agency, but they are challenging ABC7’s Freedom of Information Act request for that information. The EPA has yet to rule on that challenge. If the data is released to us, we will update the test results.
AIRLINES THAT HAVE NOT SUBMITTED WATER TEST RESULTS TO THE EPA THROUGH FEBRUARY 11, 2009:
 American Eagle
 ExpressJet
 Freedom Airlines
 GoJet
 Horizon Air
 Jet Blue
 Mesa Airlines
 Skyway Airlines
 Southwest Airlines
 Spirit Airlines
Airlines must have their water testing plans approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. The following airlines have not had their testing plans approved and have not submitted testing data to the EPA.
 Comair
 Frontier
 Mesama
 Miami Air
 North American Airlines
 Pace Airlines
 Pinnacle Airlines
 Primaris Airlines
 Republic Airways
 Ryan International
 Sierra Pacific Airlines
 Sky King Airlines
 Sky West Airlines
 Sun Country Airlines
 Tem Enterprises
 USA3000 Airlines
 PSA Airlines
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FlyersRights.org 2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
Grade
Airline
Minimum
Service
0 – 1.5 Hours
1.5 – 3 Hours
3 – 4.5 Hours
> 4.5 Hours
B
Alaska3
Bev. ($0) None SB($5) SB($5), M($5) SB($5), M($5)
B
American4
Bev. ($0) None SB($3-10) SB($3-10) SB($3-10)
B
Air Tran5
Bev. ($0) None SB($3-6) SB($3-6) SB($3-6)
B
Continental6
Bev. ($0) S SB($0), M($0) SB($0), M($0) SB($0), M($0)
B
Delta7
Bev. ($0) S SB($3-8) SB($3), M($6-8) SB($3), M($6-8)
A
Frontier8
Bev. ($0)
N/A SB($3), M($5) SB($3), M($5) SB($3), M($5)
C
JetBlue9
Bev. ($0) M ($5) M ($5) M ($5) M ($5)
B
Northwest10
Bev. $3-$5 None M($10) S($3-5) M (10) S($3-5) M (10)
B
Southwest11
Bev. ($0) S S SB($0) SB($0)
C
United12
Bev. ($0) None S($9) S($3) SB($6) SB($6), M($9)
C
US Air13
Bev. ($5) None SB($5), M($7) SB($5), M($7) SB($5), M($7) M = Meal SB = Snack Box (Important to determine if there is enough food :Yellow: 50 calories or lessGreen: Paid Snack or Snack box over 100 caloriesRed: No snack hot Pink: Snack, Snack Box or Meal that there is no charge for
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FlyersRights 2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
Airline Contracts of Carriage
Grade
JetBlue14
Southwest 15
Continental16/Continental Express
Delta17/Comair/Atlantic Southeast/Pinnacle/SkyWest
Hawaiian
Northwest18/Pinnacle
American19/American Eagle
United20/SkyWest
AirTran21
Alaska22
Frontier23
US Airways24
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Contract of Carriage Details
AIRLINE
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9 Score*
AirTran
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0 0
Alaska
0
0
0
0
0
0
1(1)
0
0 1
American Airlines/Eagle
1(2)
0
.75(7)
1
0
0
1 (3)
0
0 4.25
Continental
1(4)
0
1(4)
1(4)
0
0
1(3)
.5(5)
0 6.5
Delta
1
0(6)
.75(7)
1
1(8)
0
1(3)
0
0 6.25
Frontier
0
0
0
0
0
0
1(3)
0
0 1
Hawaiian
1(10)
1
.75(7)
1
0
0
1(3)
0
0 8.25
Jet Blue
1
1(11)
.75(7)
1
0
1(12)
0
1
0 9.25
Northwest
1(13)
0
.75(7)
1
0
0
1(3)
0
0 8.5
Southwest
1
1(14)
.75(7)
1
1
0
1(3)
0
0 10.25
United
1(15)
0
.75(7)
1
0
0
1(3)
0
0 5.25
US Airways
1(16)
0
0
0
0
0
1(3)
0
0 2 Weighting 1 3 3 1 2 1 1 1 1
*Final Scores out of 15 possible points See legend and footnotes below
NOTES:
Scoring/Grading:
12.0-15.0 = A 9.0-11.9 = B 6.0-8.9 = C 3.0-5.9 = D 0.0-2.9 = F
Legend:
1. Does Contract of Carriage (“CoC”) specifically address stranding, long tarmac confinements, and diversions?
2. Does CoC provide for passengers to deplane after 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or more hours?
3. Does CoC provide for a/c, food, water, sanitary conditions to be maintained during long tarmac delays?
4. Does CoC provide for medical treatment for passengers in need of such?
5. Does CoC provide for passengers to communicate with the outside world?
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6. Does CoC provide for compensation for long tarmac confinements? (If so how much or what in kind?)
7. Does CoC provide for hotel, ground transportation, and/or alternative transportation?
8. Is there a dispute resolution system? (If so, does it provide for a neutral decision maker?)
9. What if any penalty is there if an airline does not comply with its customer service plan or contract of carriage?
Scoring methodology: Items 2 and 3 given triple weight and item 5 double weight as judged most important by stranded passengers. Footnoted items may be given partial credit.
Footnotes:
1. Except for air traffic control, a weather situation, or another extraordinary circumstance beyond our control, delay of 1 hour = phone call, 2 hours or more = $25 or 1000 FF miles. If canceled more than 100 miles from home, hotel and associated ground transportation.
2. “In the case of extraordinary events that result in very lengthy onboard delays, American Airlines and American Eagle will make every reasonable effort to ensure that essential needs of food (snack bar such as Nutri-Grain®), water, restroom facilities, and basic medical assistance are met. We are not responsible for any special, incidental or consequential damages if we do not meet this commitment.”
3. Alternate transportation yes….only if airlines at fault; Not for reasons caused by ATC or weather.
4. “CO will use reasonable efforts to provide food, water, lavatory facilities and medical attention, if needed, when an aircraft remains on the tarmac for an extended period of time without access to the terminal, consistent with Passenger and employee safety and security concerns.”
5. Assigns a company representative.
6. If an on-board ground delay exceeds the anticipated taxi time by m
ore than one hour for an arriving flight or two hours for a departing flight, we will: • Make timely announcements regarding the flight status on a consistent basis. • Allow customers to use cell phones and laptop computers and move freely about the cabin, in accordance with safety and federal guidelines. • Provide snacks and beverages to customers when reasonable and safe to do so. • Offer free headsets and activate In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) systems (on aircraft equipped with an IFE system). • Make every reasonable effort to ensure the aircraft is properly serviced and appropriately provisioned based on factors such as aircraft type and trip length. • Monitor on-board cabin conditions and notify Delta operational officials to accelerate actions when necessary. Every Delta station has developed clear and consistent procedures to ensure safety and limit inconvenience during extensive on-board delays. This includes gate and ramp sharing with other airlines and making essential services available inside the airport. When necessary and operationally safe to do so, we will deplane customers remotely via stairs and guide them to the terminal. Also, we will review incidents of lengthy on-board delays to identify trends and causes and implement solutions to mitigate future similar events.
7. Does not mention maintaining a reasonable cabin temperature.
8. After 1 hour on an arriving flight and 2 hours for a departing flight.
9. Does not mention maintaining a reasonable cabin temperature.
10. If extended delays (over two- (2) hours) are encountered for passengers already boarded, HA will attempt to arrange for deplaning. If that is not possible or deplaning would only lengthen the delay, HA
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will provide food (snack mix, pretzels etc.), water, juice and/or soft drinks, rest room facilities and access to medical treatment, consistent with passenger and employee safety.
11. JetBlue will provide Customers experiencing a Ground Delay with food and drink, access to restrooms and, as necessary, medical treatment. In addition to the relief under subsections E and F of this Section, for Customers who experience a Ground Delay for more than 5 hours, JetBlue will take necessary action so that Customers may deplane.
12. $25 – $50 vouchers for “controllable irregularity” of 1-4 hour delay. Credit on future flights for 4-6 hour delay. Double credit or $100 voucher for 6+ hours delay.
13. AS APPROPRIATE IN EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES AND CONSISTENT WITH PASSENGER AND EMPLOYEE SAFETY AND SECURITY CONCERNS, NW WILL MAKE EVERY REASONABLE EFFORT TO PROVIDE FOR FOOD, WATER, RESTROOM FACILITIES AND ACCESS TO MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR PASSENGERS ABOARD AN AIRCRAFT THAT IS ON THE GROUND FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME WITHOUT ACCESS TO THE TERMINAL. NW WILL PREPARE CONTINGENCY PLANS TO ADDRESS SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES AND WORK WITH OTHER CARRIERS AND THE AIRPORT TO SHARE FACILITIES AND MAKE GATES AVAILABLE IN AN EMERGENCY.
14. However, if weather, gate-space limitations, visibility, airport conditions, mechanical problems, ATC requirements, or other uncontrollable circumstances cause ground delays of more than two hours, we will endeavor to: 4. Work with airport officials and other airlines to share or acquire equipment such as available gates, portable stairs, buses, vans, or other means by which Customers may deplane and be safely escorted to a terminal or other reasonable facility.
15. IN ADDITION, WHERE EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES RESULT IN THE EXTENDED DELAY OF AN AIRCRAFT ON THE GROUND WITHOUT ACCESS TO THE TERMINAL, WHETHER PRIOR TO DEPARTURE OR AFTER LANDING, UNITED WILL MAKE EVERY REASONABLE EFFORT, IN ACCORDANCE WITH AN ESTABLISHED CONTINGENCY PLAN, TO ENSURE THAT ITS PASSENGERS ARE PROVIDED WITH FOOD, WATER, RESTROOM FACILITIES, AND ACCESS TO MEDICAL TREATMENT CONSISTENT WITH CUSTOMER AND EMPLOYEE SAFETY AND SECURITY.
16. US Airways defines a long delay as starting at one hour from the time an aircraft pushes back from the gate. After one hour, real−time, automated systems alert operations managers so that the airline can manage the situation quickly and with accurate information. While away from the gate, US Airways’ flight crews communicate frequently with customers onboard the airplane. US Airways’ flights may be returned to the gate at any point during a delay depending on each flight’s specific situation. At three hours, information about the flight is escalated through US Airways’ senior operations management for a decision about returning to the gate. Inputs into that decision−making are based on situation−specific factors such as customer safety and comfort, airport capabilities, and crew status.
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FlyersRights 2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
Don’t Drink the Water!
Grade
Airline
Coliform %
B
AirTran
3%
B
Northwest
4%
B
United
6%
C
Delta
12%
C
Continental
16%
D
Alaska
28%
F
Atlantic Southeast
49%
F
American
Refused Data Release
F
US Airways
Refused Data Release
F
American Eagle
No Tests
F
ExpressJet
No Tests
F
JetBlue
No Tests
F
Mesa
No Tests
F
Southwest
No Tests
F
Comair
No Plan
F
Skywest
No Plan
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FlyersRights.org Best and Worst 2009 Awards:
 When You’re on the Ground, They Treat You Like Dirt
 Nausea
 Most Absurd Event
 Flying Fickle Finger of Fate
 My Heavens
“Fickle Flying Finger of Fate” Award
Spirit Airlines 3 jets diverted to Philadelphia and held all night on the tarmac
Spirit Airlines 3 jets diverted to Philadelphia and held all night on the tarmac
“Welcome to our Country” Awards
Air Jamaica: Gentleman called a local news station every hour on the hour to report they were still on the tarmac. 8 hours. How Air Jamaica did not get the message is a mystery. Flight was canceled and no help was offered the passengers
“When you’re on the ground they treat you like dirt” Award
Delta Airines continues to cause pain and suffering and deplorable customer service.
“Nausea” Award
Continental Airlines/Express jet Rochester: 3 babies screaming for 8 hours! Toilets unusable, deplorable conditions
“Most Absurd Event” Award
Gorgen McKracken lost his house due to AA holding him on the tarmac 7 hours. He was diverted for a mechanical issue to Witchita Falls, sat for 7 hours on the tarmac, FlyersRights ordered 10 pizza’s and 12 liters of soda which were delivered to the airport with instructions to get them out to the plane. Those pizza’s were never seen again.
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British Airways 11 hours on Tarmac only to cancel the flight and offer no help to the passengers
Aeromexico: 18 hours on plane, diverted from Seattle to Portland many diabetics in shock, when they asked to get off the plane to purchase food they were told if you ask again you’ll be arrested. Paramedics purchased big mac’s for entire plane. Then the plane flew all the way back to Mexico instead of to Seattle. Crew’s hours had long since expired
“My Heavens” Award
Southwest Airlines
They treat you like you matter!
Southwest airlines has customers in mind. They say “The airline industry is complicated, but taking care of the passengers is simple”.
WOW what a concept.
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U.S. Department of Transportation Report Card A+
Although the DOT’s Enforcement Division and their Consumer Affairs Division receive an A+ for all of their work on the Rulemaking for Tarmac Delays, and their help with our members who have exhausted all efforts to get help from the airlines, there are still gross reporting issues that the BTS could be handling differently in an effort to provide the public with be
tter information on tarmac delays. The BTS rely’s entirely on what the airlines report to them and there are no measures taken to verify the accuracy of those statistics.
However the DOT has released a new improved website that’s going to be much easier for passengers to navigate through. Here is a link to the new site: http://airconsumer.dot.gov. We believe the flying public will appreciate this new format.
Air Transport Association Report Card
The ATA reportedly spent $5.8 million to push their agenda including attempting to defeat the passenger bill of rights in Congress and weakening of proposed passengers’ rights regulations by the DOT. As our report card shows, they’ve been very busy. But they have failed to convince this president and this DOT of the merits of their arguments. We anticipate more consumer friendly regulations in the near future and are grateful to the DOT for hearing our pleas for help and finally putting the consumer first.
This is not your Grandmothers Cadillac to coin a phrase, we are now dealing with a consumer friendly DOT and FAA who are willing to listen and respond to the needs of the flying public.
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2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
Department of Transportation: A+
$175,000 Fine for Rochester Continental, Express Jet/Mesaba incident
Secretary Ray LaHood and the enforcement division of the DOT imposed fines dissuasive enough to discourage airlines from making promises in their Customer Services Commitments that they cannot keep.
Consumer Affairs response to complaints forwarded by FlyersRights.org A+
Spirit Airlines Consent Order: $375,000
Denied Boarding Compensation, Baggage, Full Fare Advertising Rule
$215,000 paid immediately; $160,000 due if within 1 year Spirit violates any aspect of this consent order
United Airlines: $75,000 for false advertising and deceptive practices related to United Airlines advertising “special deals” that did not contain appropriate notice of the amount or nature of additional taxes and fees that were excluded from the advertised fare
2nd Passenger Protection Rulemaking
DOT is considering a 2nd passenger protections rulemaking that could include international flights for time on the tarmac.
Statistics for Tarmac Delays
DOT enacted rules to require airlines to more accurately report tarmac delays beginning October 1st. However, the new rules still omit reporting by international flights (including domestic airlines), and airlines that don’t account for at least 1% of domestic traffic (even though collectively these airlines account for 20-25% of all traffic).
In addition, DOT failed to recognize that the data reported was made up “out of thin air”. To prevent FlyersRights from analyzing the data futher, November data was hidden from the public necessitating a FOIA request to access data that should be available to the public.
Hawaiian Airlines: $50,000 fine for not disclosing code share arrangements implying that the passengers would be traveling on Hawaiian airlines and not one of their code share partners
Univair Airlines (a charter airline) ordered to cease and desist from unauthorized transporation
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between US and Canada and was assessed a compromised civil penalty of $15,000
US Airways fined $70,000 for violation of code share disclosure rules
Paragon Air was assessed a $25,000 civil penalty for not providing refunds due to passengers at all or in a timely manner
Delta Airlines fined $375,000 dollars related to the oversales rule. The violations stem from the carrier’s failure 1 to solicit volunteers before involuntarily denying boarding to passengers on oversold flights, 2) to furnish the required written notice to passengers who were denied boarding involuntarily (“bumped”), and 3) to provide bumped passengers with the appriopriate amount and type of denied boarding compensation DBC in a timely manner. The order directs Delta to cease and desist from such further violations and assesses the carrier a civil penalty of $375,000.00
United Airlines violated the Departments code-share disclosure rule and the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices. The order directs United to cease and desist from future violations of part 257 and assesses the carrier $80,000 in civil penalties.
In other words United must declare if you are booking on a code share flight
Gate 1: a ticket agent was fined $50,000 for deceiving consumers about airport taxes and fees
Air Ambulance Worldwide, Inc fined
$12,000 for unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition
Holiday Airways was fined $50,000 for purporting to the public it was an airline with public charter service when in fact it had not applied or been approved for such air transportation services. Holiday air held out service on it’s Internet website in a manner that could confuse the public into believing it was an airline, and distributed advertisements that failred to comply with the Departments rule on full fare advertising
Angel Medflight fined$10,000 for purporting is is a direct air carrier, when in fact it is a service providing nurses and medical personnel for ill patients.
smartTours was fined $40,000 in penalties for failing to published the entire price to be paid by the passenger to the firm for certain air transportation
Turismo Public Charter Operator was fined $40,000 for unfair and deceptive practices by failing to maintain an escrow account and improperly used and handled charter participant funds in violation of 14 CFR parts 380
Condor Flugdienst GmbH (“Condor”) that violate the Department advertising requirements were fined $22,000 in civil penalties
Miami Air International Inc. was fined $50,00 for violations of accounting and reporting requirements per 14 CFR Part 241
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Statistics for Tarmac Delays
DOT enacted rules to require airlines to more accurately report tarmac delays beginning October 1st. However, the new rules still omit reporting by international flights (including domestic airlines), and airlines that don’t account for at least 1% of domestic traffic (even though collectively these airlines account for 20-25% of all traffic).
In addition, DOT failed to recognize that the data reported was made up “out of thin air”. To prevent FlyersRights from analyzing the data futher, November data was hidden from the public necessitating a FOIA request to access data that should be available to the public.
Liberty Travel Inc., a ticket agent, failed to comply with the Department’s rule on full fare advertising. A civil Penalty of %55,000 was assessed and Liberty was asked to cease and desist from future similar violations
Virgin America fined $40,000 for violating accounting and reporting requirements by failing to report certain quarterly financial reports with the Department for both the first and second calendar quarters of 2008.
Pascan Air, a charter airline traveling between Canada and US provides passenger and cargo charter air service. DOT fined them $20,000 US for failing to obtain safety authority from FAA
DOT ANNOUNCES “TARMAC RULE” DEC. 21ST 2009: WE WON!
In December on the 21st DOT announced their long awaiting “tarmac delay rule”. President Barak Obama gave an executive order mandating that no longer can the airlines hold you for longer than 3 hours without giving you the option to deplane, and after 2 hours of confinement in an aircraft they must give you access to potable water, food, hygienic toilets (toilets must be serviced), access to medications etc. April 29th 2010 the new rule takes effect!
Spirit Airlines Consent Order: $375,000
Denied Boarding Compensation, Baggage, Full Fare Advertising Rule
$215,000 paid immediately; $160,000 due if within 1 year Spirit violates any aspect of this consent order
United Airlines: $75,000 for false advertising and deceptive p
ractices related to United Airlines advertising “special deals” that did not contain appropriate notice of the amount or nature of additional taxes and fees that were excluded from the advertised fare
2nd Passenger Protection Rulemaking
DOT is considering a 2nd passenger protections rulemaking that could include international flights for time on the tarmac.
Statistics for Tarmac Delays
DOT enacted rules to require airlines to more accurately report tarmac delays beginning October 1st. However, the new rules still omit reporting by international flights (including
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domestic airlines), and airlines that don’t account for at least 1% of domestic traffic (even though collectively these airlines account for 20-25% of all traffic).
In addition, DOT failed to recognize that the data reported was made up “out of thin air”. To prevent FlyersRights from analyzing the data futher, November data was hidden from the public necessitating a FOIA request to access data that should be available to the public.
DOT Increased Bumping Compensation: Doubled from 200/400 to 400/800
There are several folks at DOT that deserve above and beyond awards in the Enforcement Division: Sam Podberesky, Dayton Lehman, Robert Rivkin, Secretary Ray Lahood
There are several people in the Consumer Affairs Division who have gone above and beyond to help our members with complicated isses: Norman Strickman and Patrick Nemons and Kathleen Blankreither to name a few. Although the DOT has no obligation to mediate individual complaints, when we send them a complaint for which we have run in to a dead end, they have stepped in and saved the day and for that we are really grateful! This new administration is truly consumer oriented and we appreciate all of their help. We would be remisce in not mentioning President Obama who’s insistence that passengers deserve better caused the executive order to be implemented and a 2nd rulemaking on the way.
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FlyersRights 2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
New Tarmac Data: Oct.
Volume
Airline Reporting Grade*
Diversions
Of 867 diverted flights, airlines claimed that 92 of those flights were on the ground for 10 minutes or less, that 565 of these flights deplaned passengers at a diverted airport – and then took off again – many of them in under ten minutes, and scores of other flight records couldn’t pass a basic math test.
Cancellations
Of all cancelled flights in October, according to the airlines, 128 of those were canceled after they left the gate. 27 were supposedly canceled after 15 minutes.
128
Completed Flights
Of those flights that had one or more trips to the gate before they took off, 692 indicate they returned to the gate to let passengers get off, and then left again, took off – all inside 15 minutes.
2145
The Other “25%”
Approximately 25% of commercial traffic for which no performance statistics are collected at all (smaller carriers, international flights, etc.).
25%
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*Continental and Express Jet appear to have made a gallant effort at reporting diverted and canceled flights correctly.
FlyersRights 2009 Real Air Travel Consumer Report Card
ATA (Lobby group for the Airlines)
Subject
Grade
Opposes giving passengers a bottle of water and a granola bar when stranded for 3 hours.25
F
Continues to deceive media and public and the DOT about the frequency of lengthy tarmac delays.26
F
Objects to the private right of action for consumers to sue the airlines at the State level.27
F
Claims that blood clots are NOT caused by confinement in an aircraft.
F
Claims to be advocating for additional delay reporting requirements but in fact opposes reporting of diversion tarmac delays to DOT.
F
Opposes legislated “patchwork quilt” or minimum standards – prefers their own “patchwork quilt” with no standards.
F
Contends that complaint contact information should only be provided on carrier’s websites – ignoring the well-known digital-divide that discriminates against lower income people.
F
Objects to providing flight delay information on their websites on the basis that average consumers possess the software engineering expertise to download enormous BTS databases to acquire this information.
F
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Summary of Report Cards
Airline
1. Tarmac Delays 4+ Hours
2. Tarmac Delays 2+ Hours
3. Unreported Tarmac Delays 3+ Hours
4. Longest Tarmac Delays
5. Menu
6. CoCs Final Grade
AirTran
A
B
A
F
B
F C
Alaska
A
A
N/A
N/A
B
F B
American
F
D
A
F
B
D D
American Eagle
B
C
A
B
B
D C
Atlantic Southeast
C
B
N/A
C
N/A
C N/A
Continental
F
F
F x 3
F
B
C F-
Comair
F
F
N/A
F
N/A
C N/A
Delta
F
D
F x 15
F
B
C F—
ExpressJet
F
D
N/A
F
N/A
C N/A
Frontier
A
A
N/A
A
A
F B
JetBlue
F
F
N/A
F
C
B F
Mesa
A
B
N/A
A
N/A
D N/A
Northwest
A
B
N/A
A
B
C B
Pinnacle
A
B
N/A
A
N/A
C N/A
Southwest
A
A
A
A
A*
B A
United
C
C
A
F
C
D C
US Airways
F
C
F
F
C
F F
This report card is not an overall consumer performance evaluation. It focuses on how airlines react to extended ground delays. In the absence of necessary DOT information, it relies on press accounts and empirical data collected by the Coaltion. Grading system is A-F with points awarded 1-5 (A=1). Incomplete data = 0.
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Due to the incomplete way that the DOT collects data, this is the most prevalent grade. In order to get a final grade, there had to be more than four categories graded. So for example, Atlantic Southeast is not considered for a final grade because they have only 4 categories graded.
*Southwest Airlines makes snacks available upon request, so you are not limited to one snack in the event of a long on ground delay.
Endnotes
1 http://www.bts.gov/programs/airline_information/taxi_out_times/html/by_carrier_2007.html
2 http://www.bts.gov/programs/airline_information/taxi_out_times/html/by_carrier_2008.html
3 http://www.alaskaair.com/as/www2/help/faqs/MealService.asp
4 http://www.aa.com/aa/pubcontent/en_US/travelInformation/duringFlight/dining/domesticMealService.jsp
5 http://www.airtran.com/inflight_entertainment.aspx
6 http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/inflight/dining/beverages/default.aspx
http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/inflight/dining/domestic/default.aspx
7 http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/inflight_services/food/index.jsp
8 http://www.frontierairlines.com/frontier/flight-info/inflight-catering.do
9 http://www.jetblue.com/about/whyyoulllike/about_why2.html
10 http://www.nwa.com/services/onboard/special/meals.html
11 http://www.southwest.com/about_swa/customer_service_commitment/customer_service_commitment.pdf
12 http://www.united.com/page/article/0,6722,51501,00.html
13 http://www.usairways.com/awa/content/traveltools/intheair/default.aspx
14 http://www.jetblue.com/p/jetblue_coc.pdf
http://www.jetblue.com/about/ourcompany/promise/index.html
15 http://www.southwest.com/travel_center/coc.pdf
http://www.southwest.com/about_swa/customer_service_commitment/customer_service_commitment.pdf
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16 http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/co_contract_of_carriage.2008012901.pdf<b
r />17 http://www.delta.com/legal/contract_of_carriage/index.jsp
18 http://www.nwa.com/plan/contract2.pdf
http://www.nwa.com/plan/
19 http://www.aa.com/aa/i18nForward.do?p=/customerService/customerCommitment/conditionsOfCarriage.jsp
20 http://www.united.com/ual/asset/COC04feb08final.pdf
http://www.united.com/page/article/0,1360,2981,00.html
21 contract of carriage – Customer Service Commitment http://www.airtranairways.com/about-us/customer_service_commitment.aspx
22 Domestic Contract of Carriage; http://www.alaskaair.com/as/www2/company/tariff/domestic/tariff_domestic_toc.asp
23 http://www.frontierairlines.com/frontier/pdf/Contract_of_Carriage.pdf
24 http://usairways.com/common/resources/_downloads/aboutus/US_contract_of_carriage.pdf
Customer Service Plan
http://www.usairways.com/awa/content/aboutus/customersfirst/customerserviceplan.aspx
25 Christian Science Monitor, January 8, 2008; http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0108/p02s02-usgn.htm
26 The Seattle Times, January 23, 2008 et al; http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=airlines23m&date=20080123
27 DOT Docket Management System, ATA Response to ANPRM (DOT-OST-2007-0022-0189.1) http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=DOT-OST-2007-0022
Spirit Airlines 3 flights diverted to Philadelphia, 2 sat for 9 hours on tarmac
http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/local&id=6816174

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