TIME Transportation

United Airlines Flight Turned Back Due to Disruptive Passenger

Violent passenger reportedly attempted to run towards the cockpit

A United Airlines flight heading to Denver returned to a Washington, D.C. airport early Monday after a passenger became unruly and disruptive mid-flight.

A passenger on Flight 1074 reportedly tried to run toward the cockpit before being restrained by his fellow passengers. The cockpit was secure at the time, according to ABC News. The incident occurred shortly after takeoff, and the plane was able to safely return to Dulles International Airport.

Pilots told air traffic authorities the passenger had become violent: “He ran forward towards the cockpit and he is being restrained by passengers,” one of the pilots said. “Cockpit is secure and we would like to return to the airport and have the authorities meet him.”

Washington authorities met the passenger at the gate of the airport where he was detained and later taken to a hospital for evaluation. The remaining passengers are expected to fly to Denver on Tuesday.

[ABC News]


TIME Aviation

U.S. Airlines Expecting Highest Passenger Numbers in 7 Years

If numbers bear out, it would be most passengers since the financial crisis

The spring travel season could see U.S. airlines post their highest passenger numbers in seven years, bolstered by rising employment and personal incomes, says industry group Airlines for America.

Some 134.8 million passengers — or about 2.2 million people per day — are projected to fly in March and April, according to a press release.

If accurate, that would mean the most airline travelers since numbers peaked in 2007 — right before the financial crisis.

The 2015 projections are a 2% boost from the 132.2 million people who flew on U.S. airlines during the same period last year.

John Heimlich, Airlines for America vice president and chief economist, said high consumer sentiment and “the continued affordability of air travel” may contribute to a busy travel season ahead.

TIME Travel

These Are the Coolest Airline Amenity Kits

Courtesy of American Airlines American Airlines First Class Kit

This latest generation of kits is filled with items to surprise and delight

It’s good to be a premium-class flier for reasons large (ample seating) and small (these amenity kits).

Among the small yet profound joys of flying in a premium-class seat is opening the amenity kit to see what’s inside. And these days, you can expect much more than a collapsible toothbrush and earplugs.

Amenity kits are just one of the many details attracting the attention of airlines—eager to entice those lucrative first- and business-class passengers. Some airlines are tempting them with collectible cases that can be snagged only on certain routes, while others are recruiting top designers and brands to create goodie bags worth keeping.

Luxury labels like Ferragamo and Bulgari often lend their cachet to the bags, whether supplying a travel-size bottle of cologne, an exclusive lip balm, or a cheeky eye mask warning flight attendants: “Beware, I sleep walk.” Etihad, meanwhile, has partnered with Sougha, a group that supports local UAE artisans, to weave bags given out to all fliers, even those in economy.

Since the first amenity kits appeared in the 1950s (then known as RONs, as in “remain over night” kits), travelers have been eagerly rummaging through them. This latest generation of kits is filled with items to surprise and delight—from international and domestic carriers who know just how to pamper the fliers in front.

American Airlines First Class Kit

American Airlines provides first-class passengers with practical yet stylish kits by Eames, the American design group known for chic office spaces. The padded 8×10 bag is printed with the iconic Eames dot design—and doubles as a tablet case. What’s inside? Dermalogica skin products, including nail treatment and hand cream, a minty lip balm, a moist toilette, plus a microfiber cloth to clean your device’s screen before stowing it for landing.

Air France La Première Amenity Kit

Jet-setters who book one of only four private suites on Air France’s new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft get to lounge on a 6.5-foot-long bed, swathed in merino wool blankets and cotton sleep suits. They’re also each gifted with a leather cosmetics bag by French brand Givenchy. It’s filled with Biologique Recherche products: face cream, anti-fatigue roll-on treatment for eyes, an eye mask, and an oshibori towel.

Air New Zealand Business Premier Class Kit

Air New Zealand embraces its laid-back, quirky personality—evident in its viral in-flight safety videos and its latest amenity kit. This slim, gray felt pouch holds Clarins HydraQuench cream and lip balm as well as Pippi Longstocking–esque striped socks. The eye masks feature witty messages ranging from “Sleeping beauty” to “Are we there yet?” and “Beware, I sleep walk.”

British Airways Men’s and Women’s First

The sturdy wash bags in British Airways’s first-class cabins are stuffed with high-end beauty products (Aromatherapy Associates for women, London-based groomers The Refinery for men). Inside the women’s dusty-rose case, you’ll also find deodorant, a cotton wool pad, and a brush with a mirror attachment. The men’s steel-blue bag holds a similar arsenal of amenities, with the addition of a razor blade, shave gel, and eye cream.

Cathay Pacific First Class Female Travel Kit

When Cathay Pacific refreshed its first-class suites in 2013, it also revamped the amenity kits. The women’s Trussardi bag resembles a clutch purse; unfold the four-sided clutch to reveal hand, lip, and face creams from the Australian all-natural cosmetic line Aesop. There’s also a wooden compact brush worth pocketing. For men, Cathay Pacific supplies an Ermenegildo Zegna pouch full of Acca Kappa products along with a comb.

Read the full list HERE.

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MONEY Travel

Why You Should Book Your Summer Vacation Now

Rome, Italy
Image Source—Gallery Stock Rome, Italy

Planes are expected to be crowded, so finding low fares will take some work and advance planning.

With snow piling up in much of the United States, it might seem a bit early to start thinking about summer. But if you want to take a vacation on your terms, travel experts say now is the time to get the ball rolling.

Cheaper fuel prices, a strong dollar, and an economy on the upswing mean consumers will have a lot of competition booking airplane seats for summer vacations. “This is the perfect storm,” says Rick Seaney, chief executive officer of FareCompare.com, which analyzes airfares.

While experts say expectations of a booming summer travel season will prompt airlines to add capacity, the companies’ computer models will adjust pricing according to ticket sales. The fewer the seats left, the sharper the price increases.

Expect prices to rise through the spring, says Tom Spagnola, senior vice president for travel service CheapOair.com. Travelers should start booking international flights this month and domestic flights in the next month or two.

Asia- and Latin America-bound vacationers might find some bargains, while the carriers’ sharing alliances that dominate the business will probably limit the availability of deals elsewhere, says airline industry consultant Bob Mann.

How To Gear Up

To shop now, use one or more of the airline pricing websites to get notified of changes. Among those offering free fare alert services are Kayak, Yapta, Airfarewatchdog, CheapOair, and FareCompare.

A flight from New York to Paris on American Airlines on June 25 for one week would cost $1,232 non-stop round-trip if booked now. Trying for another day could reduce the price by $100 or more, so it is best to be flexible about travel dates.

And if you are willing to fly on a no-frills discount airline, you could pay even less. XL Airways France has a flight for $1,097 round-trip.

The day of the week you fly matters, FareCompare’s Seaney says. To get the best prices, try booking a flight for a Tuesday, Wednesday, or a Saturday.

On longer trips, Seaney suggests considering a connecting flight to get further savings. An example: An early summer non-stop from Washington, D.C., to Rome costs about $2,047 round-trip on United, compared with as low as $1,036 if you toss in a stop in Istanbul and fly Turkish Airlines.

You may want to vacation during off-peak periods. Seaney notes that the higher summer-season pricing does not start until after the first week in June and typically tapers down after the third week of August.

Also, keep an eye on the total price of a ticket, which can include taxes, surcharges, and fees as well as airfare.

For instance, there is still a $450 fuel surcharge levied on flights to Europe, but Seaney says it is just a matter of time before that is dropped or lowered because energy prices are so low.

Flights into and out of London’s Heathrow Airport carry an extra $70 to $90 tax, so you may want to use a different nearby airport, like Gatwick.

Cruise for Deals

This time every year, the cruise industry dangles its best deals during the so-called wave season—buy now for trips during the rest of the year.

“Now is when people will find some of the best pricing of the year and, more importantly, the best incentives,” says Gabe Saglie, senior editor for discount travel site Travelzoo.

One recent deal promoted on Travelzoo offered free drinks, prepaid gratuities and a $100 shore excursion credit on a 10-day Alaska cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line—about $1,200 in perks. An ocean-view room for a midsummer sailing was going for about $1,800 per person (based on double occupancy) with those bonuses tossed in.

Related: 6 Ways to Be a Savvier Traveler in 2015

TIME Travel

This is America’s Healthiest Airport


Nearly all the restaurants in this airport offer at least one healthy, plant-based entrée

Travel plans in the near future don’t need to undo your newly minted resolutions, thanks to surge in healthful food offerings at airports across the country.

A recent survey showed that most restaurants at 75 percent of the nation’s busiest airports offer at least one healthy, veg-focused dish. This year’s healthiest airport, surprisingly, wasn’t highly ranked Portland International, or even body-conscious Tampa or star chef-studded JFK in New York.

Instead, it was Baltimore/Washington International Airport that took the top spot for its vegetable and hummus plates, gluten-free quinoa pasta, and locally sourced vegetable salads, just to name a few. Nearly all the restaurants in BWI offer at least one healthy, plant-based entrée.

Sure, you have to pass by Potbelly Sandwich and hand-shaken margaritas at Zona Cocina, but the selection of healthful options and nutrition-minded eateries (low-fat frozen yogurt at Tasti D’Lite; Nature’s Kitchen Fresh Café) have given BWI something to brag about.

This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

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TIME Travel

What You Need to Know About Traveling to Cuba

© F1online digitale Bildagentur GmbH / Alamy American flag with signboard of Cuba Southernmost Point, Key West, Fla.

There are 12 types of travel that are permitted, including family visits, journalistic activities, professional research and meetings

It’s happening, people. Travel to Cuba just got as little easier, thanks to a new set of regulations that take effect today and expand on President Obama’s recent policy changes.

The Department of Treasury dropped the amended regulations on the lap of tour operators and others with a stake in travel to Cuba yesterday morning. Just how quickly these changes can and will be implemented remains foggy—as do some of the particulars, which will likely be hashed out in the coming days and weeks. So watch this space.

In the meantime, for a sense of what the new regulations mean, we reached out to T+L’s trusted network of travel specialists for more insights. (A big hat tip to GeoEx, an operator that has been active in the country for several years, for help deciphering these regulations.)

Here’s what we know:

  • All travel to Cuba must still meet certain activity-related requirements. There are 12 types of travel that are permitted, including family visits, journalistic activities, professional research and meetings, educational activities, public performances, and religious activities.
  • “People-to-people travel,” the most common way most Americans currently now experience the country, is considered a form of educational travel that promotes meaningful exchanges between U.S. citizens and Cubans. It is officially still subject to “appropriate conditions” (meaning certain activities, such as going to the beach, are not permitted) and requires some sort of guide or agent to accompany travelers. In other words, you will still need to visit with a licensed tour operator.
  • Some operators are anticipating that the requirements and enforcement of people-to-people itineraries will soon be relaxed—meaning that even on these structured trips, you could more or less be able to travel through the island as you choose.
  • The new Treasury regulations lay the groundwork for a more simplified, general license for all types of travel to Cuba, which could open the door for more tours (and tour operators) bringing Americans to the country.
  • That said, the tourism infrastructure in Cuba remains very limited. It will be difficult for new companies to deliver meaningful experiences—for now.
  • Commercial flights are now authorized to Havana, but don’t expect them to start immediately (though U.s. carriers are already champing at the bit). Logistically, they will likely take several months to implement. So for the time being, it’s charter flights only from the States.
  • Americans can now bring back up to $400 in souvenirs home with them—that includes $100 worth of alcohol and tobacco.
  • U.S. travelers can also now use their credit cards in Cuba—a change that exists only on paper until U.S. financial institutions actually develop a presence in the country.

In essence, new flights, new tours and tour companies, and new ways to explore the island are coming soon. “Although things are sure to change in Cuba, we are viewing the regulatory amendments as very positive, and are excited about the possibilities.” says Jennine Cohen, the managing director for the Americas at GeoEx.

What remains to be seen is how long it will take to build up the tourism infrastructure in Cuba to meet increasing demand from Americans—and what this new tourism infrastructure will look like. “It is going to take a significant amount of time for Cuba to be considered a prime destination for tourists,” says Dan Sullivan, President and CEO of Collette tours.

In the meantime, the best experiences will be offered by operators who know the country well—and have relationships and connections already in place. We recommend GeoEx, Collette, InsightCuba, G Adventures and Smithsonian Journeys.

This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

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TIME Travel

These Are the Airline Fees Actually Worth Paying For

Getty Images

Getting your seat upgraded for a 15-hour-long flight would be quite worth it

This article originally appeared on Map Happy.

Fees are the reality of flying today and it’s left us with a whole bunch of to-pay-or-not-to-pay questioning. So, which extras are actually worth paying for?

This sucker punch of an article from The New Yorker was shared all over the internet recently: “Why Airlines Want to Make You Suffer.” I found it painful to read, mostly because it made me confront how much flying has changed over these past years — for the more stressful. Or as the article puts it, more “miserable.”

It all comes down to a industry-wide move to the fee-based model, which flyers have experienced the slow and costly shift to. First came the charges for checked bags. Then meals disappeared on flights and now someone tells me that seats have actually been shrinking.

That same article even makes the counterpoint that:

The airlines, and some economists, argue that the rise of the fee model is good for travellers (sic). You only pay for what you want, and you can therefore save money if you, for instance, don’t mind sitting in middle seats in the back, waiting in line to board, or bringing your own food.

Sure. I guess.

Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, not all fees are worth it. Here’s our take.

Checked Bags

Ideally not but sometimes it can’t be avoided. Here’s our list of U.S. airlines’ baggage fees for a better idea of what we’re all up against. Keep things to one bag because the big fees come after bag number one. For the wise packers: When gate-checking, there’s no fee. Make sure the look and size is right (carry-on) to get it past check-in.

Upgraded Seats

Yes—at least for long flights. Like for those really, really long international flights. I weigh the cost-value benefit based on flight time and my projected mental and emotional state for the duration of the flight. If it’s an overnighter or I’m going to be spending quite a bit of time in that seat, those extra inches at my feet really do make a difference. This is one area where it’s an advantage to be short.

We’re not just getting bigger, either. Seats these days are smaller than they’ve ever been. It doesn’t mean there aren’t cost-free methods to get more room though.Get a wingman and snag a whole row with this method or this trick if you’re flying solo.


No. Now it really comes down to personal taste and preference but overpaying for mediocre (at best) food is something that really grates on me. There are lots of really good snacks for traveling. And I’ve reported before, bringing home-cooked food through security is kosher with the TSA, too, as long as it’s packaged properly.

If anything, buy at the airport before or after, where there are at least non-boxed options. (I also consider ending up at a place like Chicago O’Hare where Rick Bayless has his Tortas Frontera outpost, a real food win. Erica loves this place too.) In fact, T Magazine says we are living in the golden age of airport restaurants, so eat up.

As for alcohol, mini liquor bottles actually can be carried on, so mixed drinks can come free. As an extra, here’s the super duper crazy list of airlines that serve booze. It might not be the best tasting but you ain’t paying.

Ticket Changes

Sometimes this can’t be avoided but there are ways to minimize the damage. In fact, in some cases just buying a new flight can be cheaper than changing it. For those d’oh moments when a ticket is booked, there’s a grace period of 24 hours during which the ticket can be changed—that also can be hacked to 48 hours. And when it’s too late for that, we’ve found that waiting until the very last moment to change it—we’re talking the day of—is cheapest.

In-Flight Wi-Fi

Not if you just want to use basic Google apps. But if you need a little bit more, there’s also a way to mod your browser to get cheaper in flight Wi-Fi. Dude, there’s even a whole guide on this stuff, courtesy of Erica. But just to know before you jump through all this hoopla, this is exactly how much in-flight Wi-Fi will cost you on your next flight.

Airport Lounges

Depending on the day, airport and layover you might hear something different from me. Sometimes I’ve just got to a get shower and want to splay out on a comfortable chair with complimentary beverages. And if I don’t have access already granted with status and I’m facing a doozy of a layover, I’ll potentially shell out. This post goes a little bit more in-depth on the topic.

There’s just no right answer here but a lot of it is going to depend on the lounge you’re thinking about. Here’s a hint: If you can just pay for a separate standalone shower, that’s usually the best amenity to give in to.

More from Map Happy:

TIME Transportation

This Guy Flew Delta to New York With Only One Other Passenger

Travelers Embark On Holiday Travel Day Before Thanksgiving
George Frey—Getty Images Delta planes at the Salt Lake City international Airport on November 27, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Enough refreshments for seconds?

An empty commercial airplane—is that kind of like a private jet?

Chris O’Leary, media strategist and editor of a New York-based beer blog, would be the person to ask. O’Leary had booked a New York-bound Delta flight from Cleveland that was delayed for several hours on Monday. When the beer enthusiast stepped on the plane, he found out he was the only passenger.

“It was definitely the most memorable flight I’ve been on in recent memory if only for the sheer lack of passengers to become bothersome,” O’Leary told ABC News. “There were no screaming babies, no one listening to loud lyrics or reclining their seats or taking their shoes.”

O’Leary got a private safety briefing and one-on-one briefing from the captain about the flight.

Shortly before takeoff, the plane returned to the gate and picked up one more passenger, for a grand total of two fliers on the 76-seat plane.

[ABC News]

Read next: Donald Trump Says Air Traffic Controllers Deliberately Flying Planes Over His House

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Travel

The Travel Hacks You Should Know (But Probably Don’t)

Getty Images

Know your baggage policies inside out

This article originally appeared on Map Happy.

Travel hacking is often synonymous with credit card churn and gaming points and miles. I’m no stranger to those tactics but I’ve always been more interested in the nifty, devious ways to get what you want while on the road. Here’s the best of the best, tried true and tested.

I think it has to do something with the fact that I grew up surrounded by engineers and tinkerers which might have to do something with my obsession with travel hacking. At any rate, you won’t find any generic tricks here because there’s nothing I really hate more than generic advice.

Sometimes it’s cheaper to travel internationally than domestically, even once you factor in airfare. That’s because if you’re coming from a country with a high cost of living—the U.S. is one—traveling in countries that have lower costs of living can be cheaper or the same price as traveling in the U.S. Even then, sometimes the differences are so dramatic that even a $700 airplane ticket can get absorbed in the savings. I’ll use Expatistan and the Big Mac Index to try to gauge costs when I’m budgeting for places I’ve never been before. I even ran the final numbers from actual trips I took to San Francisco and Colombia to compare the difference.

If you’ve bought a ticket, there’s a 24-hour get-out-of-jail-free card for pretty much all of the airlines (American is the exception to the rule for this but even they have their own version of it). If you’re flying United, there’s also a way to ninja hack it, extending the time period to 48 hours without having to pay a small fee to lock in airline prices.

Flights can have two different prices for the same ticket depending on the market it’s sold in. Blame it on foreign currencies. This sometimes leads to cheaper prices in one market, either due to currency fluctuation or controlled market pricing. It’s not extraordinarily hard to take advantage of this, either. In fact, sometimes it’s as easy as changing the regional website of an airline’s website.

British Airways is the best program for redeeming domestic flights. It sounds counterintuitive but if you want to stretch those miles as far as they can go (in the States at least), the best program is a frequent flyer program not even based in the U.S. That’s because unlike North American frequent flyer programs, British Airways uses a distance-based chart, often requiring way less miles to redeem a ticket than United or American.

Sometimes it’s cheaper to fly to your connection than your destination and then to ditch the final leg. This is called hidden-city ticketing and while I’ve never done it, I know people who have engaged in it. Be careful, because it could get you into a whole bunch of trouble, though it seems most airlines tend to target those that use and abuse it. The carriers highly discourage this, so use our guide to find tickets at your own risk! (For what it’s worth, we did have one reader who checked with American before doing it and American had no issues with it.)

Ditching a flight can be cheaper than changing it. The cost of change fees are so exorbitant these days that it can be more than the cost of a new ticket. If you really want to change a flight, its often better to do it on the day of your flight for a heavily reduced change fee.

Heading to multiple destinations can be a complex booking process but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to book an open-jaw ticket with zero backtracking—time is money, hello—and why it may be worth the extra cost. There’s no need to do a roundtrip to Las Vegas and then a separate roundtrip to San Francisco when you can just fly to Las Vegas from the origin and leave from San Francisco back to the same place.

There’s no need to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi if all you want to do is use basic Google apps on a phone. But if you need full access, I researched official Wi-Fi pricing for three domestic routes of varying lengths (for all airlines) so you can gauge whether you should pay for that Internet access ahead of time. There’s actually many ways to get cheaper Wi-Fi onboard.

It takes two people to snag a whole row, without incurring any risk of ending up in the middle seat. Not that I think the middle seat is so bad but some people have a serious aversion to it. Here’s a low-risk, high-reward strategy that will hopefully end with the row of your dreams.

Not that traveling solo doesn’t have its advantages. In fact, if things aren’t looking so great in the economy cabin, that’s the best time to score a seat upfront for free. It does require you to forego a seat assignment but if the other option looks like you’re next to the bathroom in the back anyways, I don’t think it can get that much worse.

Gate check a bag to avoid check-in fees. Most gate agents are more concerned with getting the plane taking off in time, not nickeling and diming passengers. Simple enough.

Know baggage policies. Inside and out. Though most people know that Southwest and JetBlue (until they announce the new bag fee, at least) waive the first bag, what they don’t know is cumulative baggage totals if they’re checking in multiple bags. We’ve done the math here for all the airlines and Virgin America is by far the most consumer friendly for this.

As a side note, most people don’t seem to know that when an airline waives a paid checked bag and a passenger chooses to check another bag, the bag fee for that bag is actually the second bag fee. (In other words, it doesn’t defer the sliding scale. Just because you waive the $25 first bag, that doesn’t mean the second bag is now $25. You pay the cost for the second bag surcharge, which can be $35.)

Surviving long-haul flights is an art. While it’s tempting to pop an Ambien and doze off until the plane reaches the destination, there are specific strategies that will ease your comfort. For instance, I always choose an aisle seat in the middle section of the plane and prefer to use the washroom during specific times during the meal. Worst case scenario, just look up which international airlines serves free booze and which don’t.

Stay connected to your U.S. mobile for free. Short of switching to T-Mobile, most people don’t realize they can stay connected to text messages and calls by using Google Voice through the official app and the Hangouts app. This requires an unlocked phone and purchasing a prepaid SIM that includes data access. Pay $13 for a week for unlimited calling and copious amounts of data (I’ve gotten 4G unlimited data in another country for this price point before) or $30 for 120MB of data and no calling? The upside is that you can make as many local calls as you want, easily and cheaply.

More from Map Happy:

MONEY Travel

How the U.S. Quietly Fixed the Most Annoying Thing About Air Travel

Hours-long tarmac waits were a scourge to frequent flyers. Then, suddenly, they weren't.

There are few things worse than being trapped inside a plane while it sits on the tarmac for hours. Travelers leaving Abu Dhabi were reminded of that fact this past weekend when a fully boarded Etihad Airlines flight 183 was held on the ground for 12 hours due to fog.

According to reports, passengers were given only one meal during what became a 28-hour trip to San Francisco, and had to deal with clogged toilets along the way—not exactly the best start to a new year.

The good news is that tarmac horror stories like this one have become increasingly rare for American air travelers. But that wasn’t always the case. In February 2007, more than 1,000 passengers were stranded on JetBlue flights out of John F. Kennedy International Airport for almost 11 hours. One year later, a Delta flight from Atlanta to West Palm Beach kept passengers trapped on the runway for 10 hours.

Those incidents were especially egregious examples of traveler mistreatment, but they were indicative of a larger trend. Between May 2009 and April 2010, a whopping 693 boarded flights sat for more than three hours on U.S. tarmacs. For a while, being trapped in a plane for hours before takeoff became, if not common, at least something like business as usual. Relatives wouldn’t be shocked to hear you spent a few hundred minutes stuck in preflight purgatory on the way to a holiday visit.

And then, in a flash, it all changed. From May 2010 through April 2011, the Department of Transportation recorded 20 total tarmac delays—a 97% drop from the previous year. In the twelve months from November 2013 to October 2014, there were just 47 such delays. The frequent flyer’s worst nightmare had suddenly come to an end.

What happened? The reason’s as simple as could be: The federal government decided to start cracking down on tarmac waits. In August 2010, the Department of Transportation imposed new rules that would fine airlines as much as $27,500 per passenger if a domestic flight sat for more than three hours on the tarmac without travelers being able to voluntarily leave the aircraft. The regulation was later extended to include international flights that stay on the tarmac for over four hours.

Airlines quickly learned the DOT wasn’t kidding about its new policy. When American Eagle Airlines delayed 15 flights for more than three-hours in May of the following year, the department slapped the company with a $900,000 fine. A plane with as many passengers as Etihad’s flight 183 could owe millions of dollars for a sufficiently extensive delay. With that kind of money on the line, companies realized it wasn’t in their interest to keep passengers cooped up for too long.

While some at the time were worried the new rules would lead to increased flight cancellations and ultimately hurt air travelers, their fears appear to have been unwarranted. Cancelled flights went up only slightly, and according to experts, the benefits of the regulations to passengers outweigh the costs. Flights are cancelled once in a while, says George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, but the DOT’s rules “definitely prevented a lot of suffering.”

Instead of cancelling masses of trips, Hobica has seen airlines become more adept at allowing passengers to leave the plane if they choose while letting the remaining travelers stay on board. Airports now have busses equipped with stairs to evacuate fed-up customers from a long tarmac wait, and some have even adopted a dedicated gate for emergency deplanings.

“The rules have definitely reduced the number of tarmac delays all around,” Hobica says. But that doesn’t mean we’re safe all the time. The DOT’s rules only apply on American soil. Outside the country, flyer beware.


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