Aviation "Bill Of Rights" Backer Eyes JetBlue Misery
The "Bill of Rights" Kate Hanni supports isn't concerned with free speech or search-and-seizure: it's more about breathable air and sanitary rest rooms -- and being released from a grounded airplane in no more than three hours.
Hanni is the chairwoman of the Coalition for Airline Passengers, and she joined "Closing Bell" to talk about the aftermath of last night's grueling JetBlue faux pas -- and what she hopes will come of it.
Hanni was an unwilling participant in a similar aircraft endurance test: she was a passenger on an American Airlines flight on Dec. 29, one that gained national notoriety for being stranded on the tarmac for a brutal eight hours -- a record topped by JetBlue's dubious St. Valentine's Day achievement. Now, she's working to convince Congress that laws are needed to prevent the sort of potentially unhealthy discomforts -- stale cabin air, waste overflows and general information failure -- that allegedly occurred this week.
In an exclusive interview with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, JetBlue CEO David Neeleman said his colleagues will "take a strong look" at the so-called Passengers Bill of Rights, but prefer not to have it imposed by the federal government.
Hanni said she found the CEO's "language very interesting" -- while she approved of what Neeleman said in theory, she declared that it's "very easy" for carriers to make promises, only to break them. She told Bartiromo that JetBlue's after-the-fact response "was a good one," and she found the discount airline's offers of compensation superior to those offered by American's parent AMR. But she maintains that Neeleman's words were simply "not definitive" -- and fears that, once the glare of publicity dims, JetBlue will forget its chagrin and its promises.
The "Bill of Rights," which Hanni will discuss before legislators next week, would include such requirements as:
-Notification of delays within 10 minutes of airlines' knowledge of them;
-Full information for passengers regarding reasons for delays and other conditions;
-A 3-hour limit on tarmac marooning -- after which, a flight is automatically cancelled;
-Allowing passengers more freedom to deplane during delays -- and no later that the 3-hour tarmac limit.
Within the last several days, American announced its own policy for ticketholders: Flights are cancelled after four hours' delay.