The introduction by JetBlue Airways of its passenger bill of rights is being seen as a potential voluntary alternative to a congressionally-mandated bill.

Republican Mike Thompson is proposing a passenger rights bill in the House and Democrat Barbara Boxer is proposing one in the Senate. US carriers are fighting against the proposals, but it remains to be seen if JetBlue's voluntary approach will be strong enough to fend off the legislation.

The last time Congress was ready to pass a bill of rights for beleaguered passengers followed the debacle in 1999 when Northwest Airlines stranded hundreds within sight of its Detroit airport gates. Only a last-minute compromise brokered by Senator John McCain establishing a voluntary code of conduct avoiding a threatened Senate bill. The code included promises of better communication and other steps to avoid stranding customers.

In December, however, the Transportation Department found that airlines were not living up to their promises. The same month an American jet sat on the tarmac in Austin, Texas for hours despite phone calls from passengers on board to American's headquarters, which was closed. Other under-reported incidents have led to a blogging and internet-based passenger rights campaign.

US carriers do not want Congress to pass a passenger bill of rights

Source: Airline Business