The least thing a passenger wants to encounter when waiting for a flight is a delay. Delays and cancellations in today’s commercial flights have become the fear and shadow from anyone who desires to use airplanes as their method of transportation. Delays account for a big percentage of complaints at airline counters. Many factors could lead to a delay; weather and maintenance are the most common. But, what is a customer suppose to do when encountering such mishap? What rights assure the well-being of a passenger? An Airline ticket is a contract; in this agreement, airlines are obligated to transport the passenger and to comply with the agreed parameters. Compared to Europe, the States are behind when it comes to passenger rights (virtually none). Despite this, there are some rights a passenger has when dealing with a delayed flight. Indeed, air business is reaching historic highs, but flight delays are too. During 2006, more than 23% of flights were either late or cancelled. If it is not an overbooking situation, it is weather, if it is not weather, it is a malfunction; the possibilities are unlimited. Even the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is aware of the situation, but its actions are virtually useless. The delays will not only be the same, but are expected to worsen up during the next coming years (“on-time”, 2007). The FAA’ in conjunction with the airlines thinks that the answer is to change the computer systems, so it is asking the congress for more funding money. This funding is nothing more than the so famous user fees, which will certainly improve the FAA situation, but will mean a huge catastrophe for the general aviation users. Air traffic controllers believe that more runways could help, but that is just an unrealistic idea since bigger airports are already surrounded by urbanization. Either answer takes a lot of time and a lot of money, only meaning that delays are here to stay.
Definition and Causes
A flight delay is any change from the promised time and date of departure or arrival. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, for purposes of reporting, a flight is considered delayed if it arrived at (or departed) the gate 15 minutes or more after the scheduled arrival (departure) time as reflected in the Computerized Reservation System. The reasons could vary, and there is an extensive list of reasons why delays occur, some of them include: •
Accidents or catastrophes at the destination/departure airport. •
Hijackings and bombings, which unfortunately, are still a threat in the present. •
Mechanical malfunctions such as engine malfunctions, a tire that blows during take off, etc. •
Acts of God like typhoons, volcanic eruptions, snowstorms, rainstorms or any bad weather occurrence. •
Schedule Changes, like a ten minute early departure or a change that was not promptly informed to a passenger. •
Another situation that would result on a delay is an air traffic control (ATC) interruption due to air congestion or calamity. •
Noxious body odors - believe it or not, in 1999 a passenger and a child were removed from a flight due to “unwanted odors”. •
Wrongful detention – an isolated case like this could delay many flights. •
Airline overbooking is a common practice that on occasion, causes the discontentment of some passengers. •
An ejection of a passenger from the aircraft sums up to the list; Failure to confirm or reconfirm reservations, discrimination of a passenger, and many other miscellaneous causes like civil disorder, shortage of fuel, misplaced tickets, collapsing ticket counters, altered tickets, etc. The first four are considered major reasons, extraordinary reasons that could have not been avoided, even if precautionary actions were taken. In these cases, the airlines could not be held reliable or accountable for any delay or cancellation, because it is reasonably justified. Even if the airline directives did everything they could, the delay could not be evaded. All the other...
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