Relief for air travelers

The Obama Administration has announced guidelines for airlines on the treatment of passengers trapped on planes, with stiff new penalties for violations.  It’s welcome news.

The federal government will impose stiff penalties starting this spring on airlines that keep passengers waiting too long on the tarmac without feeding them or letting them off the plane — a remedy that will relieve many travelers but mean longer delays for a few.

The Obama administration took the strict new approach in response to several highly publicized events in recent years, and in the face of likely Congressional action if airline regulators did not respond to the consumer outcry that ensued. […]

Under the rule, airlines that do not provide food and water after two hours or a chance to disembark after three hours will face penalties of $27,500 a passenger, the secretary of transportation announced on Monday.

Steve Benen asks:

This isn’t my area of expertise, but I can’t help but wonder — given all of the years of awful incidents, why didn’t previous administrations do something similar sooner?

Hm…  Perhaps they didn’t think they could do anything without Congress acting first?

Does this mean the Obama administration is about to start taking civil rights seriously?  Don’t hold your breath.  It’s too easy to throw gays, women, etc. under the bus for perceived political advantage.

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