Who's happy now? Well, certainly not a lot of flyers. About one million US flyers were delayed or stranded in the days just before Christmas, when some 8,800 flights were cancelled, according to website flightstats.com. Many were in the Pacific Northwest and many, alas, were at the nation's connected-est airport, Chicago O'Hare. O'Hare delays proved that even if Chicago is no longer the nation's busiest airport, it is one with tentacles that do reach awfully far. Blame it on the weather. Snowstorms, ice, fog, and freezing temps slammed the Midwest and by Christmas Weekend, the delays had also enveloped the nation's truly busiest airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson. We do know one person who took some cold comfort from the chaos: Kate Hanni.
The Californian realtor and founder of flyersrights.org sees the calamities as a widespread return to the bad old days of tarmac delays, the kind that set her on her crusade to begin with and the kind that set the Transportation Department to set up a tarmac delay task force.
Kate was furious with the task force's final report, which was merely an advisory to the airlines, and is that a recent DOT rule that requires the airline to submit reports of long delays appears to be one with too many loopholes. But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who wields considerable power and respect, has told Hanni that she'll put in a new bill outlining passenger rights sometime in the next year, when a new Congress begins. The airlines are opposed, inalterably, but they will have less of a say in the Obama Administration than they did last time around - when the bill just stalled and died. (At left, some stranded flyers in Chicago's O'Hare, a/k/a the Midwest's cheapest hotel.)