Experts debate safety implications of limiting tarmac delays

Unless the airlines and FAA can work together to correct the tarmac delay problem, "Congress is going to correct it for them," Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said in a speech on Monday. While one passenger-rights advocate says tarmac delays are a matter of "safety, dignity and well-being" for fliers, the airline industry says a hard-and-fast rule for deplaning could have the opposite effect of what it intends to accomplish. "Our biggest concern is safety," insists a spokeswoman for the Air Transport Association, noting that a federal standard could have "unintended consequences." For instance, she said, a three-hour limit could force passengers to deplane in the middle of an electrical storm.

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