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Tarmac delays

Rules regarding airline tarmac delays were significantly strengthened in 2010, with the Department of Transportation establishing a hard time limit after which U.S. airlines must allow passengers to deplane flights. Still, the hard deadline is three hours, which didn’t help passengers on a July 17 Allegiant Airlines flight heading to Oakland, Calif., from Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport. More than 150 passengers had to sweat it out for 2½ hours after a maintenance issue left the aircraft with inadequate air conditioning. Passengers had to remain in their seats, even though the plane was still at the departure gate baking in triple-digit temperatures.

It’s understood that flying isn’t always going to be hassle-free. Repairs come up that must be addressed, and there are security issues involved that limit what airlines can do with regard to deplaning and reboarding.

But surely, airlines and airports can find a better solution for this problem, which has hit Las Vegas-based Allegiant twice this summer, though other airlines certainly face similar dilemmas. Isn’t there at least one secure place at most airports that’s reasonably comfortable, where passengers can get some relief? Can’t some common sense come into play here?

The airlines and airports would do well to quickly come up with a proposal to better handle tarmac delays — before the federal government steps in and really messes things up.

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