Flying is stressful at the best of times. You worry about arriving at the Airport in good time and then worry about having the correct documents. How many times do you check you have your passport and boarding card are where you put them? Then there is security how long will it take do I have any restricted items?
When you eventually board and the doors close the plane begins to taxi and you start to relax but the wait continues as you get in line to take off. The wait goes on. The crew never let you know where you are in queue or the likely time to the take off. Anxiety creeps in fuelled by the lack of knowledge and control. Read on at least you know where you stand and what you are entitled to. Remember planes have a narrow window to take off and often due to hold ups the slot is missed and your plane will need to be reallocated a slot.
All Airlines have a Tarmac policy which lays down what constitutes a delay.
In Europe if the delay is more than I hour it is mandatory to provide air-conditioning, use of toilets and water. The option to deplane is only available after a delay of 5 Hours!
In USA the delay must be over 2 hours to trigger the provision of food, water, toilets and medical care if required. After three hours in the USA you have the option to deplane. On USA planes outside the USA this is extended to four hours. These rules are not applicable if:
- The pilot determines that there are safety or security reasons for keeping the passengers on board.
- ATC advised that deplaning would cause significant disruptions in the airport
If you are stranded on the tarmac keep a note of when the doors closed so that once the delay moves past 1 hour in Europe and 2 hours in the USA you can remind the attendants of their responsibilities.
Knowing your rights helps alleviate the anxiety. Be ready for a delay then when it happens you will be able to cope.
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