Secretary Peters, Don't Wait For Congress To Act On Tarmac Delays (Rep. Jean Schmidt)

With continued public outrage at airline flight delays, I asked Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters to administratively implement H.R. 2662, my bill to collect data on cancelled and diverted flights.

Currently, flights that experience tarmac delays are not recorded as delayed if the flight is diverted to another airport, or the flight is cancelled before takeoff and returns to the gate. H.R. 2662 would require that all tarmac delays are reported to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. I estimated that due to this reporting loophole, tarmac delays could be underreported by up to 50%.

This is a serious problem that needs immediate attention. It seems every day a new story comes out about people who are trapped in a plane for hours on end or travelers who are stranded because of missed, delayed or cancelled flights. Each one of those flights is full of parents trying to get home to their children, loved ones failing to connect, and thousands of dollars of lost commerce due reduced productivity or missed meetings.

While I am very pleased Chairman Oberstar (D-Minn.) included the language from my bill in H.R. 2881, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill, but Secretary Peters does not need to wait for this legislation to pass. We need to act now to begin compiling the data to solve this problem, and alleviate these stressful and inconvenient delays.

Airports Most Likely to Experience a Tarmac Delay of Three Hours or More:

1. Chicago O'Hare
2. New York JFK
3. New York Newark
4. Philadelphia
5. New York LaGuardia
6. Houston
7. Miami
8. Boston
9. Charlotte
10. Dallas

Based on a random sampling of the 1,295 flight delays during 2006 of three hours or more.