NewswireToday - /newswire/ -
New York City, NY, United States, 2007/02/28 - Some airlines compensate customers for the delays with vouchers ranging from $25 to the full fare. Yet for the travelers trapped onboard with scant food, and having missed vacation and business events, this seems paltry compensation.
A recent snowstorm on the East Coast has shaped into a crisis for JetBlue. On Valentine’s Day, the airline’s operational shortcomings due to the storm led to 1,096 canceled flights and thousands of stranded passengers. Many fliers were confined on planes at JFK International Airport as long as 10 hours. JetBlue said it will compensate customers for the delays with vouchers ranging from $25 to the full fare. Yet for the travelers trapped onboard with scant food, and having missed vacation and business events, this may seem paltry compensation.
“The amounts being offered to these unfortunate travelers is pitiful,” said Lawrence Goldhirsch, an attorney with the Negligence department at Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. Goldhirsch, an expert in aviation law, is author of “The Warsaw Convention Annotated: A Legal Handbook,” considered by the legal community a bible for international aviation.
In a bid to win back its customer-service driven image, JetBlue publically instituted a Bill of Rights, which commits the company to compensate passengers for various kinds of flight disruptions. But that carrier isn’t alone in stranding flyers during inclement weather. American Airlines experienced similar delays in December when passengers rerouted from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport during storms, sat on the tarmac at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, with no food and dirty toilets.
These recent incidents recalls a similar scenario from 1999, when Northwest Airlines stranded passengers up to nine hours, ultimately settling a lawsuit including claims of “false imprisonment” for around $7 million. Flyers of the airline had spent hours on planes sitting on the tarmac in a snowstorm in Detroit. Allowing those planes to return to terminals to drop off passengers would have helped mitigate the discomfort, an error the aviation industry continues to make.
Goldhirsch pointed out that the US Department of Transportation does not have any limitation of damages that may be claimed by passengers for delay. “Only international passengers are limited by a treaty—the Montreal Convention—when they are delayed on such flights. Even in those cases, the limitation is approximately $4,500 per passenger, depending on the length of delay and other circumstances."
About Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C.
Weitz & Luxenberg (weitzlux.com), founded in 1986, is one of the leading plaintiffs’ litigation law firms in America. The firm has played leading roles in national and local litigations involving asbestos, DES, and silicone breast implants, medical malpractice, and general negligence among others. A forerunner in the legal fight against environmental polluters, Weitz & Luxenberg has worked with clients harmed by MTBE and mercury, among other toxins. The firm has won numerous cases involving dangerous pharmaceuticals, including Vioxx, achieving a $13.5 million verdict against Merck & Co. (docket No. ATLL129605).