Airlines would be required to ensure that passengers are adequately cared for when they are on their plane but their flight is delayed or they are prevented from debarking at California airports, under a bill introduced by state Assemblyman Ted Lieu.
At a press conference at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Friday, February 22nd, Lieu said he has introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1407, the “Airline Passenger Health and Safety Act,” which calls for sweeping reforms of the airline industry in California.
“The health and safety of my constituents who fly is very important to me,” Lieu said. “AB 1407 will give California airline passengers the strongest consumer protections in the nation.”
The proposal comes six months after thousands of passengers were forced to wait for hours on planes and in the customs area at LAX when a computer system outage struck the U.S. Customs screening area in the Tom Bradley International Terminal.
Under Lieu’s bill, airlines would be required to ensure that passengers, especially those with special needs, are properly cared for during flight delays of more than one hour.
Among the requirements would be to provide electrical service, waste removal service and adequate food and refreshments.
The bill would also require airlines to post information on their Web site about chronically delayed flights and runway incursions, and to compensate passengers 150 percent of the ticket price if they miss a connection because of a previous delay.
Another requirement of AB 1407 would be to create an Office of the Airline Advocate, which could investigate and resolve consumer complaints against the airlines.
When announcing the bill, Lieu was joined by several representatives from consumer groups, including Kate Hanni of the Coalition For An Airline Passengers’ Bill Of Rights; Richard Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California; Jose Hernandez, an LAX Wheelchair Attendant, SEIU (Service Workers Internatioal Union), Airport Workers United; and Fidel Valenzuela of the Westside Center for Independent Living.
“Passengers on commercial airlines are some of the most vulnerable of all consumer groups,” Holober said.
“Once they’re on the plane, they are completely at the mercy of the airline. AB 1407 will give these consumers a voice.”