DOT Issues Guidance on ‘Tarmac Delay Rule’ and Passengers with Serious Illnesses

Recently, the United States Department of Transportation’s (US DOT) Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings issued guidance on whether the ‘tarmac delay rule’ applies in conditions where an airline passenger(s) may be infected with a serious contagious illness (such as Ebola) and as a result passengers are not allowed to deplane due to orders from United States government entities such as Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The guidance specifically notes that the rule contains exceptions in situations where the pilot determines there is either a safety or security related reason why the airline cannot deplane passengers.  The rule also notes an exception may also apply if ‘a directive from an appropriate government agency’ occurs.

Moreover, in cases outside of the rule’s exception clauses, the US DOT has stated it always considers the ‘totality of the circumstances’ when reviewing all tarmac delay situations and determining whether enforcement is actually warranted.

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