by Rob Hard
Wednesday April 14 2010

My business travel view, “Three Hour Tarmac Rule May Not Reduce Delays for U.S. Business Travelers” explores this in more depth.

The three hour tarmac delay rule goes into effect on April 29, 2010. It’s a ruling by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that says airlines must return passengers to the gate or risk incurring a fine if delays exist beyond three hours. And because the new fine goes into effect shortly after tax day, I must highlight that the fees collected by these fines go directly to the U.S. Treasury for general use, not for a specific use such as Federal Aviation Administration projects to improve the airline experience.

While the DOT ruling points the cause at airlines for delays, it fails to provide any direction for airlines that may help avoid tarmac delays in the future.

So, it made me wonder: By establishing the three hour maximum tarmac rule, is the DOT giving government agencies and airlines permission to ignore the problems that kept passengers delayed on tarmacs for the more than 63,400 flights between one and three hours? This, according to 2009 data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Learn more about tarmac delays:

  • Three Hour Tarmac Rule May Not Reduce Delays for U.S. Business Travelers and Tourists
  • 12 U.S. Airports with the Longest Tarmac Delays, 2009
  • Should U.S. Tarmac Delay Rule Impact International Flights?

Do you think the three hour tarmac rule will actually reduce airline delays?