In the days leading up to, and immediately after, the implementation of the Department of Transportation’s tarmac delay rule, I was constantly asked how I thought it would work. Didn’t I think there would be lots of cancellations? Didn’t I think this was a solution in search of a problem? One cynic asked whether we were supporting it as a way (somehow) to add to airports’ food and beverage revenue?
My answer was always that airlines and airports would work together to find ways to adjust to the rule. I admit a certain amount of hope and faith were involved in the answer, but I did believe that this would happen.
An article in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal by Scott McCartney, along with figures released by DOT and anecdotal experience, indicates my hopes and my faith were well placed. As McCartney notes, “…airports and airlines have worked hard to put systems into place to comply with the new rule. In the end, passengers may get more reliable transportation.”
Most regulations like this are designed to react to some extreme examples of distress and are designed, by nature, to influence behavior. Seems to be working that way, so far. For one, I am not surprised that my industry has stepped up to the challenge, and given past experience with rules like this in a variety of other industries, I am not surprised the airlines have either.
I think this is a time when airports and airlines can be proud of how they’ve responded to this challenge.