Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Plane Stupid

Recently, New York State enacted airline passengers rights legislation, the first of its kind, to address recent extended delays on the tarmac.

NYT link

Under the New York law, the only of its kind in the country, airlines could be fined up to $1,000 per passenger if they failed to supply water, fresh air, electric power and working restrooms during lengthy delays. A federal judge in Albany upheld the law in December, only to be reversed on Tuesday by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

A federal appeals court has now deemed the law preempted by existing federal legislation.

The appellate judges agreed with the Air Transport Association of America, an airline industry group, that New York’s law was pre-empted by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 and hindered the Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to maintain uniform standards for air travel.

“If New York’s view regarding the scope of its regulatory authority carried the day, another state could be free to enact a law prohibiting the service of soda on flights departing from its airports, while another could require allergen-free food options on its outbound flights, unraveling the centralized federal framework for air travel,” the court said in its decision.

The association, which brought the case, said in a statement that the court decision vindicated the airlines, noting that “a patchwork of laws by states and localities would be impractical and harmful to consumer interests.” The group added, “This clear and decisive ruling sends a strong message to other states that are considering similar legislation.”

Sure, other states were just waiting to join in on the fun and prohibit soda, peanuts and perhaps even < gasp > pretzels. And really, having fresh air and water available for those 6 hour stays on the tarmac might signal the ultimate decline and fall of western civilization. Better to just leave well enough alone. < cough, cough >

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