I predicted it.
I reiterated the prediction.
And, as per usual, it’s happened; the Obama Administration rule fining airlines for keeping passengers waiting on the tarmac over three hours is causing a huge spike in flight cancellations:
A Star-Ledger analysis of federal DOT figures reveals airlines are simply canceling more flights, presumably to avoid idling on the tarmac and exposing themselves to the whopping fines. In fact, the cancellation rate at the nation’s major airports surged 24 percent during the eight months after the rule went into effect.
There is no breakdown by airport, and there was a noticeable spike in cancellations during the wicked December weather. But over the course of the eight-month period, 7,095 more flights were ditched.
Put another way: Nearly 900 more flights a month are being scrubbed..
At 100 passengers per flight, that’s 90,000 a month having to change their plans on the fly – usually with a lot more than three hours’ delay.
“They’ve exchanged inconvenience for a relatively few number of people for an inconvenience for a tremendous number of people,” said David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, a passengers advocacy group.
Jennifer Sutherland, 46, a gymnastics coach and Cedar Grove native now living in Clarksville, Ohio, was among the thousands of air travelers whose flights were canceled at Newark Liberty International Airport after the Dec. 26 blizzard. Sutherland has no way of knowing if the tarmac rule came into play in her case, but she was angry that airlines could be canceling flights as an easy, sure way to eliminate their risk of penalties.
“The airlines are saving the massive fines from the tarmac rule and at the same time forcing passengers into the impossible situation of waiting days or weeks to re-book or simply purchase another ticket,” she said.