Terminating outbound flights: 'We've waited long enough'

The US Department of Transpor-tation recently urged the airlines to set limits on how long passengers can be confined during runway delays. The recommendation grows out of two extreme situations last winter, when stormy weather caused 10-1/2-hour waits on the tarmac. The heavy volume of runway traffic and restrictions on getting out of line contribute to the long waits, but some airlines have put in place a time frame for beginning the process to determine whether to return to the gate. Some major airlines and the length of time (in hours) after which they will consider pulling a departing plane out of line:

Alaska Airlines Delta Hawaiian Southwest 2
Northwest 3
American Continental United 4
Jet Blue 5

– Air Transport Association

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