State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. today urged U.S. District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn to allow a New York State law to go into effect on January 1st that will require all airlines at New York airports to provide basic amenities, including snacks and water, fresh air and power, and working restrooms for passengers delayed on planes for more than three hours. New York’s first-in-the-nation law, which Senator Fuschillo sponsored, is being challenged by the Air Transport Association of America, Inc. (ATA), which represents the major airlines.
Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, who is the Chairman of the Senate Consumer Protection Committee, said, “New York has 75 percent of the nation’s delayed flights and we need to ensure that passengers stranded at our airports are treated with respect by the airlines, not held hostage without even basic amenities. In the absence of a federal law, New York has taken the lead in protecting the rights of passengers. I urge the federal court to uphold this law so that it can go into effect on January 1st and stranded travelers can begin to receive the basic amenities they deserve to make their waits more tolerable.”
Judge Kahn conducted a hearing today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, located in Albany, at which the ATA fought to keep the New York law from taking effect. Judge Kahn indicated that he will make a decision on the law within a week.
Besides providing stranded passengers with basic amenities, the New York State law also creates an Office of Airline Consumer Advocate within the New York State Consumer Protection Board to provide the public with a New York State-based consumer advocate to help coordinate with appropriate airline industry officials, federal agencies and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the event an incident occurs.
The Airline Consumer Advocate will refer any violations of the new law to the New York State Attorney General’s Office, who can seek a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per passenger per violation by an airline.