Air Passenger Rights Bill Heads to House
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Improving the quality of air travel is the goal of one American passenger who did not take well to being stuck on an airplane for more than eight hours. She was so angry after her experience that she decided to launch a drive to push for more airline passenger protection. And she's getting attention on Capitol Hill, as NPR's Jack Speer reports.
JACK SPEER: When American Airlines flight 1348 en route from San Francisco to Dallas/Ft. Worth was diverted by bad weather last month, Kate Hanni, a California real estate broker, wasn't happy.
Ms. KATE HANNI (Real Estate Broker): They initially thought that we would be in a parking position for about an hour to wait for the weather to clear in Dallas, and that we would be able to take off and get to Dallas. And within about three hours, they were aware that we would not be able to take off.
SPEER: She says passengers sat without food or water and with toilets that were near overflowing. It was after that, Hanni says, she decided to push for an airline passengers' bill of rights. Among other things, it would set up a procedure for returning passengers to the gate after three hours, and require airlines compensate passengers whose flights are delayed for more than 12 hours.
California Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson says he's considering introducing legislation that will hold the airlines accountable.
Representative MIKE THOMPSON (Democrat, California): I think that would put in place a standard by which anyone flying on our commercial airlines would feel that they have a certain level of protection.
SPEER: American Airlines awarded passengers $500 travel vouchers and apologized. The airline also said it's putting in place procedures to make sure the situation, quote, "never happens again." Several prior attempts at passing consumer protection legislation for airline travelers have failed to get off the ground.
Jack Speer, NPR News, Washington.
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