Lawmakers in No Rush on Passenger Rights

The airline industry is resisting mandatory guidelines, preferring voluntary measures instead.

The airline industry says it's opposed to new rules but is willing to engage in discussions with passengers and lawmakers to find improvements.

The latest push toward a bill of rights is based on "isolated incidents that are not indicative of the effort that the carriers are making to improve their service," said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, the industry trade group.

"We've got a stake in this," Castelveter said. "The airlines more than anybody recognize the need to service their customers. You have a decision to make when you travel. . . . We want your choice to be to fly."

Airlines fought off efforts to impose new federal requirements after a 1999 snowstorm left thousands of Northwest Airlines Inc. passengers stranded in Detroit. The issue continued to arise into early 2001 but hasn't drawn much attention since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that devastated the industry.

Carriers have said that new rules might create more problems during a bad weather event. A plane that's waiting on a tarmac could be in a queue to resume its flight after being diverted, for instance. If the plane were to return to a gate, it could be grounded even longer - leaving passengers more likely to be stranded outside of their final destinations.

Hanni said she and other stranded passengers are calling their representatives and launching petitions to ensure the issue does not die.

"We're asking for accountability," she said, "and we don't know any other way of doing it than this process."


(c) 2007, The Dallas Morning News.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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