After a spate of high-profile airline problems in which passengers were stranded on planes for hours even though they were within sight of a gate, the Department of Transportation imposed rules with heavy fines for significant delays.
The airline industry warned that the rule would actually lead to more delays because they’d just cancel flights rather than delay them.
A study out today says that’s just what happened.
The research from Dartmouth College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that tarmac delays were reduced, but it led to an increase of delayed passengers inside the terminals.
The rule was imposed in 2010, not longer after an ExpressJet flight sat for six hours in Rochester, Minn., the most infamous of the stranded flights.
The rule prohibits U.S. airlines from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without allowing the passengers to get off.
“Overall, the rule is estimated to have significantly increased passenger delays, especially for passengers scheduled to travel on the flights that are at risk of long tarmac delays,” says Vikrant Vaze, an assistant professor at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering.
His study proposed increases the amount of time passengers would have to sit on the tarmac to 3.5 hours, and impose the rule only on flights that would have departed before 5 p.m.