Passengers stranded for hours aboard planes on the tarmac would still have to depend on the good will of airlines and airports for relief under guidelines adopted by a federal task force Wednesday.
The task force, which was dominated by the airline industry, approved guidelines for model contingency plans for airlines and airports to follow in cases of extended tarmac delays. But the task force's report to Transportation Secretary Mary Peters doesn't recommend a specific limit on how long passengers can be kept waiting without the opportunity to return to a gate.
Nor does the task force recommend that Peters make the guidelines mandatory.
Industry members of the task forces said they needed the flexibility to design their own response plans and not be pinned to a time limit for holding passengers inside planes on the tarmac.
The task force report recommended that:
Airlines update passengers delayed on tarmacs every 15 minutes even if there is nothing new to report.
A secure room be provided for passengers from diverted overseas flights so they can avoid having to go through security checks when reboarding an aircraft to their final destination.
When practical, refreshments and entertainment should be made available.
Airlines should make reasonable efforts to be keep airplane restrooms usable.