Etihad Will Review Tarmac Delay Policy After Insane Delays

Filed Under: Etihad, Media

On the PR front, Etihad’s year certainly hasn’t been off to a good start after they dealt with some torrential fog in Abu Dhabi, which more or less crippled their operations.

The two stories that went most viral include:

While delays during bad weather are pretty common, it’s the way that Etihad handled it that caused the most criticism. In the US we have the four hour tarmac rule, whereby after four hours on the tarmac passengers have the option of deplaning. In the case of the Etihad flight, it seemed as if the passengers were more or less being held hostage, as they had no option to deplane.


Anyway, USA Today has an article about the situation, including a quote from an Etihad spokesperson who claims that Etihad is reviewing their policy on delays:

Etihad Airways “has announced it is to review its policies on the length of time aircraft can remain on the ground, with passengers aboard, while waiting for a takeoff slot,” airline spokeswoman Katie Connell said in an e-mail. “While the departure of passengers to their onward destinations was a priority over the weekend, (Etihad) has acknowledged customer concerns and has committed to a review of its procedures as soon as is feasible.”

I’m not sure I follow the part about reviewing the “procedure as soon as is feasible.” This should be a priority, and should happen now, in my opinion.

It’s amazing how long airline contracts of carriage are. They’re basically as long as The Bible, and talk about all the obligations of passengers to the airline. However, they’re oddly vague about the obligations of the airline to the passengers. I mean, for the most part they don’t even set a timeline for when they’ll get you to your destination. If you book a non-refundable ticket they can get you to your destination on-time or a month late — as far as the contract of carriage is concerned, they’re upholding their end of the contract either way.

It’s time for airlines to either self-police with published policies, or absent of that, for more governments to step in and create rules for the airlines.

  1. Are the Conditions of Carriage the reason why it’s legal to get bumped? (involuntarily)

  2. “It’s time for airlines to either self-police with published policies, or absent of that, for more governments to step in and create rules for the airlines”

    Isn’t that EXACTLY what happened here in the United States? The airlines CONTINUALLY failed to address the problem until finally (after a lot of pax advocate group lobbying) the gov’t stepped in with the rules we have in the U.S.

    Before the rules (and threat of HUGE fines) there were plenty of similar “trapped in an airplane” stories in the U.S. too….

  3. Atif has a good point. I still remember the Dec 2010 blizzard at JFK and prior to that, the tarmac 4-hour rule only applied to domestic carriers, hence why you heard stories of CX, TK, BA, EK flights all on the JFK tarmac for hours after arrival in JFK.
    Afterwards, however, the DOT revised the rule to include foreign carriers operating on US airports.

  4. I keep getting Phishing attack alerts from my browser and virus alert when on your page. Came up on this one, the Dusseldorf Etihad page and also on other pages of yours. Others websites seem to be fine.

  5. similar to danielle, also having an issue. it’s impossible to view this site on safari mobile — it keeps automatically redirecting me to app downloads. works fine in chrome.

  6. Hey Lucky,

    have you read that Etihad is actually being sued for this? Apparently one of the passengers aboard the flight to Dusseldorf was a local judge. While getting more and more frustrated on the plane he constructed a case against Etihad and passed it around to his fellow passengers to join. Once back in Germany he and about 100 other passengers sued Etihad at a Berlin court (as the German office of Etihad is located there). They sued for imprisonment and something else. Will be interesting what the results will be…
    Kind regards from Germany!

  7. @ Abdel Rahim Abdallah — Yes, the contract of carriage does give them the liberty to bump passengers as needed.

  8. I completely agree with you. When I tried to understand the delay compensation in the US, apparently, US doesn’t have something like EU261/2004, so it is up to the contract of carriage. So I explored a bit but then realized those contracts basically means nothing. The only thing you can rely on is how good the customer service is…

  9. From what I’ve read, the U.S. tarmac law is three hours, after which the airline is subject to an FAA fine of $27,500 per passenger per additional hour. That’s just about the best protection in the world. Apparently there’s no tarmac rule at Canadian airports yet…and Middle Eastern airports? Give me a break. I’ve lived in the Emirates before for 9 years in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Don’t be fooled by the tons and tons of money those rulers throw at CNN and BBC to make you think they’re modern world cities just because they have tall buildings and a metro train. The slavery mentality still predominates.

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