We've been hearing about stranded passengers all year, from numerous instances in which airlines have kept passengers on idled planes on tarmacs for six, eight, 10 and in some cases over 12 hours.
Kate Hanni has done an astonishing job organizing a grassroots movement to press for passage of federal legislation to address these strandings, which are a direct consequence of an airline system stretched too thin, with no slack to accommodate weather or other disruptions. See the Web site of the stranded passengers coalition at www.flyersrights.com
You've read about these things. But now more people are recording their experiences, especially after this video on YouTube was widely disseminated. It shows what it was like on a Delta flight stranded on a tarmac for over 7 hours. Listen to the song and dance, shuck and jive, that emanates from the cockpit.
(This Delta flight wasn't even close in its misery to many others. Overflowing or stopped-up toilets, sick, frightened and hungry passengers, and foul air have been standard experiences on these flights).
My prediction: Now that New York State has stepped up to the plate and passed its own version of a passengers rights bill that will force airlines to provide basic health, safety and sanitation provisions to passengers stuck on tarmacs for 3 hours or more, there will be strong pressure in 2008 for Congress to move on the federal passengers' rights bills that have been languishing most of this year in the Senate and House.
Airlines, meanwhile, are doing everything they can to prevent any more of these videos and graphic reports from stranded flights.
Bad weather isn't the only reason they're canceling so many flights that would in the past have been flown, subject to delays. The airlines are very seriously worried about more bad publicity, especially now that some passenger back in seat 23B has video rolling.