Holiday airport crises a ray of sunshine for flyer advocates

9752cc1c-4de3-4e15-a3a4-ad73b40f6a19.jpgWho’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 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 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

Sleepless in Chicago[1].jpg

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.)



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10 Responses to Holiday airport crises a ray of sunshine for flyer advocates

  1. Kate Hanni December 31, 2008 at 2:20 pm #

    “Ancient Chinese Proverb”

    If you think that I cannot do something, don’t interrupt me while I’m doing it! Kate Hanni


    You have an interesting but untrue take on how our organization and myself feel about the chaos over the holidays. Truthfully, I’m glad you at least included something about passengers stuck in cot cities in Chicago.

    You should be aware that my and other volunteers entire holiday was spent answering our FREE hotline. I make no money and neither do our other volunteers. We simply help those who either have been aggrieved or who don’t understand what the rules are out there in the unfriendly skies.

    Our commitment, unlike the airlines “voluntary commitment”, means that we show up for you the passengers when others don’t. We don’t write fancy blog posts criticizing others efforts to help flyers not be treated worse than prisoners of war. We simply do the right thing and keep our word to the passengers by answering the phone and actually showing up for them.

    It’s one thing to take away all snacks and food and other things, it’s another to actually put folks at risk of fatal Blood Clots and other issues.

    I hope that you will be sensitive to the type of work we do, unnoticed, every day to help others. We have almost 25,000 people who are working very hard to try and make your life better.

    Kate Hanni
    Executive Director

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