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Expert Tells Why You Can't Leave A Delayed Plane After Boarding

Are you stuck in a plane because of delays and wondering why you can't just leave? You're not alone, and an expert tells why you can't leave a delayed plane after boarding. This issue became especially big in the UK on Sunday, August 28, because of a problem at air traffic control.

Dr. Felix Chaosphere
Aug 31, 20231896 Shares59254 Views
Are you stuck on a plane because of delays and wondering why you can't just leave? You're not alone, and an expert tells why you can't leave a delayed plane after boarding. This issue became especially big in the UK on Sunday, August 28, because of a problem with air traffic control.
Juliet Kennedy, who works at the control center, said, "it will take some time for flights to return to normal."

The Significance Of Flight Delays

In the aftermath of the recent air traffic control failure in the UK,the conversation around airlines' responsibilities to their passengers has never been more crucial. Over 250,000 passengers were stranded during the bank holiday due to technical glitches at Nats, the organization responsible for UK air traffic control systems.
Nearly 1,600 flights were canceled across UK airports on the fateful Monday, with an additional 300 cancellations following on Tuesday morning. The frustration isn't just a matter of inconvenience; it's spilling over into conflict. Some passengers, as captured in a viral video in Spain, have even argued with Ryanair workers.
Passengers arguing with Ryanair workers in Spain
Passengers arguing with Ryanair workers in Spain
As Downing Street reminded airlines of their duty to aid stranded passengers, there was palpable tension between airline industry leaders and the government. The former felt Nats should bear the brunt of the responsibility, given their technical issue was at the heart of the travel disruption.
According to Transport Secretary Mark Harper, airlines must either facilitate alternative travel for affected passengers or take care of their meals and accommodation until a flight is available. This leaves passengers in a precarious situation, relying on both the efficiency of the air traffic control systems and the airlines' policies on passenger comfort.

What The Experts Say

A spokesperson for a British travel group, Sean Tipton, explains why you can't leave a delayed plane after boarding.
Basically, if there are problems with air traffic control systems, the aircraft is waiting for a slot so it can take off and head to its destination.- Sean Tipton
What's tricky is, nobody knows how long the wait will be. Tipton explained:
The length of time until the plane can take off might be an hour, which could then be delayed again.- Sean Tipton
According to Tipton, letting people leave the plane would make things worse.
That would cause even longer delays.- Sean Tipton
Though it feels really annoying, Tipton explains that keeping people on the plane is actually better for everyone. Rules in Europe say you have to be allowed to leave the plane if you’ve been stuck for five hours. But Tipton said that such long waits are "rare."
Even after they fixed the problem that caused all these delays, we're still seeing many more flights get delayed or canceled. On Monday, over 1,200 flights were either grounded or delayed, and 200 flights have already been canceled today.

What Airlines Do To Make Delays Easier

While experts explain the operational reasons behind keeping passengers on board during delays, airlines too have policies designed to minimize discomfort during these unexpected waits. For instance, British Airways outlines a comprehensive customer service and contingency plan to tackle such situations.
The airline works in close coordination with airport authorities, Customs and Border Protection, and the Transport Security Administration in the U.S. to ensure passengers’ well-being during lengthy ground delays. These could be caused by factors like severe weather, air traffic control decisions, or other restrictions beyond the airline's control.
One important aspect of British Airways' policy is the four-hour rule: the airline will not permit a plane to stay on the tarmacfor more than four hours without giving passengers an opportunity to disembark. However, this rule comes with exceptions, such as if the pilot determines there are safety or security reasons to remain onboard. Likewise, Air Traffic Control input can override this rule if disembarking would disrupt airport operations.
Within two hours of a delay, the airline pledges to provide food and potable water to passengers, as long as doing so doesn't compromise safety or security, according to the pilot's discretion. During the entire duration of the delay, functional lavatory facilities and adequate medical attention will be available if needed.
One aspect passengers might find comforting is the promise of regular updates. The flight crew will provide status updates at least every 30 minutes during the delay, informing passengers of the reason for the delay when known. Additionally, if there’s an opportunity to disembark after the scheduled departure time, the airline will notify passengers every 30 minutes.
While it might be frustrating to remain in a stationary aircraft, airlines like British Airways have policies in place to alleviate some of that discomfort. They commit to providing as much information and as many amenities as possible to make the experience less taxing for passengers.

Know Your Rights On Aviation Law Delays

While airlines like British Airways have customer service plans to deal with delays, passengers also have legal rights under aviation law.

What Aviation Law Says About Delays

The EU Passenger Rights Regulation aims to shield passengers from long waits or flight cancellations that airlines could have avoided. Officially known as "Regulation (EC) No 261/2004," this law safeguards travelers and nudges airlines toward better punctuality. These rules apply irrespective of whether you're on a business trip or a vacation.

What Are You Entitled To?

  • Delays- If your flight arrives more than 3 hours late, you may be eligible for compensation ranging from €250 ($272.50) to €600 ($654).
  • Cancellations- If you're notified less than 14 days before your departure about a flight cancellation, you're also entitled to compensation.
  • Overbooking- If the airline has overbooked the flight and you're left without a seat, this is akin to denied boarding, and you're entitled to compensation.
  • Missed Connecting Flight- If you miss a connecting flight and arrive more than 3 hours late at your final destination, you're also eligible for compensation. This applies even if the connecting flight is operated by another airline, provided your ticket is valid for both segments.

How Much Can You Get?

  • Short Distance (Up to 1,500 km)- Compensation amounts to €250 ($272.50). For example, flights like London to Edinburgh.
  • Medium Distance (1,500 km to 3,500 km)- You could receive €400 ($436). Like a flight from London to Athens.
  • Long Distance (Over 3,500 km)- You might be eligible for €600 ($654). Imagine a trip from London to Tokyo.

How To Claim Your Compensation?

Initiating the compensation process may seem daunting. It involves going through flight databases, comparing similar legal cases, and confirming the validity of your claim under European law.
However, services like Flightrightmake this easier. Just enter your flight details into their free compensation calculator. They'll verify your claim and manage the entire process for you.
Plane full of passengers
Plane full of passengers

Tips For Travelers On Possible Flight Delays

While airlines and air traffic control may be working out their policies and procedures, passengers aren't entirely powerless. Being proactive can save you a lot of stress and inconvenience when things go south. Here are some actionable tips you can follow to prepare for possible delays and cancellations:

Smart Flight Choices

  • Opt for non-stop flights, even if they're a bit pricier ($10 more might save you hours of stress). Connecting flights raises the risk of cancellations and delays ruining your travel plans.
  • For short distances, consider other modes of transport to avoid the lengthy airport security queues.
  • Book morning flights to dodge roll-on delays often affecting evening schedules.
  • If possible, fly on Tuesdays or Wednesdays when airports are less crowded.

Leverage Technology

  • Download your airline's app and explore its features. It's your go-to source for real-time updates on delays or rerouting.
  • Monitor the airport website for security checkpoint timings and use flight-tracking apps like Radarbox, FlightAware, or FlightRadar24.

Be Ahead Of The Game

  • Use online check-in to save time and keep an eye on your flight status for a contingency plan.
  • Pack light with only carry-on bags to reduce the risk of baggage mishandling.

Power Up

Ensure your phone is fully charged on your travel day. Bring along a portable charger and an adapter just in case.

Baggage Wisdom

  • If you have to check bags, keep essential items in your carry-on.
  • Check your bags well ahead of your flight, avoiding the 60-minute window before departure to ensure they make it on the plane.
  • Take a quick photo of your checked luggage; it'll help in case it goes missing.

Be Insured And Informed

  • Invest in a good travel insurance policy that covers delays and cancellations.
  • Document any delays or disruptions and keep a copy of any claim forms for missing baggage.

Manage Expectations And Stay Calm

Long queues and unexpected delays are often part of the journey. Stay patient, and remember: being prepared is half the victory.
By following these tips, you arm yourself with the best defense against the unpredictabilities of air travel. Safe travels!
So, if you're flying soon, be ready for the chance of delays. The expert, Sean Tipton, says that it's frustrating, but it's better for everyone to stay on the plane. If you're worried about getting stuck, maybe bring some extra snacks or something fun to do while you wait.

People Also Ask

Why Are Airlines Allowed To Delay Flights?

Airlines can delay flights due to multiple factors, including scheduling issues, staffing challenges, or unforeseen events like weather conditions.

What Happens If An Airline Keeps Delaying Your Flight?

You have the right to assistance and options for rerouting, reimbursement or rebooking. If you reach your destination over 3 hours late, you get the same options as if you were denied boarding.

How Long Can An Airline Keep Delaying A Flight?

United States

In the U.S., the Department of Transportation (DOT) dictates that a domestic flight cannot be delayed on the tarmac for more than three hours. For international flights, the maximum allowable tarmac delay is four hours. There are specific exceptions to this rule, such as when the pilot identifies safety or security concerns.

United Kingdom

In the UK, the rules differ based on the length of the flight. Short-haul flights can't be delayed for more than two hours on the tarmac, while long-haul flights have a four-hour limit. If the delay surpasses five hours, airlines are obligated to offer passengers the choice of a refund.

Why Are Airlines Allowed To Delay Flights?

Airlines can delay flights due to multiple factors, including scheduling issues, staffing challenges, or unforeseen events like weather conditions.

What Happens If An Airline Keeps Delaying Your Flight?

You have the right to assistance and options for rerouting, reimbursement or rebooking. If you reach your destination over 3 hours late, you get the same options as if you were denied boarding.

Conclusion

In summary, flight delays and cancellations are an unfortunate but unavoidable aspect of modern air travel. This problem has been highlighted recently due to an air traffic control issue in the UK, affecting hundreds of thousands of passengers and prompting serious questions about airlines' responsibilities.
However, as an expert tells why you can't leave a delayed plane after boarding, it becomes clear that these protocols, while frustrating, are designed to mitigate further delays and ensure passenger safety. Amid the finger-pointing between air traffic control and airlines, and even confrontations with airline staff as seen in Spain, it remains essential for passengers to be informed of their rights and for airlines to maintain transparent and humane policies.
So, if you're boarding a plane in the near future, be prepared for possible delays and remember that staying onboard, as aggravating as it may be, is often for the greater good.
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