New Passenger Bill of Rights could strand you anyway - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

New Passenger Bill of Rights could strand you anyway

SEATTLE, Wash. - The airlines are finally doing something about those long delays, but you might not like what some of them are doing.

As a powerful storm races up the Eastern Seaboard over the next few days, airlines are making mass cancellations instead of risking putting people on planes only to get stuck on the tarmac.

Did you know...

Have you noticed that your flights are on time more?

Airlines are now scheduling in longer flight times for trips, meaning a cross country trip that used to take six hours is now scheduled for seven. That means longer time en route and padding for delays, but on time arrivals.

Meanwhile, airlines say they've slowed down to save fuel and many now fly slower regional jets.

"The airlines are very skittish about the possibility of sticking a plane on a runway and, through no fault of their own, be fined up to $25,000 per seat," says Steve Danishek of Seattle based TMA travel, and a respected travel expert.

Danishek is referring to the so-called Passenger Bill of Rights, new federal rules which don't go into effect for months, but already have some in the airline industry changing the way they operate.

For example, Southwest Airlines has proactively canceled all flights into Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia starting Friday night, and all has canceled all operations at those airports all day Saturday.

Other airlines are making cancellations too, and in most cases are allowing passengers to change their flights without charging penalties.

Still, Danishek says some passengers will find themselves stuck, maybe not on a plane or in an airport, but in a city they don't want to be. And he says they are stuck on their own.

"Remember if it is a weather-related cause, the airline has no obligation to the passenger. They don't have to get them there, and they pay nothing if they cancel a flight," said Danishek. "They don't have to pay for hotels, they don't pay for food, they don't pay for seats on another airline. They simply are off scott-free."

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