Tarmac Delay Contingency Plan
It is Lufthansa’s aim to make every flight a safe and pleasant experience and further enhance customer comfort on the ground and in the air. Lufthansa’s Contingency Plan for Lengthy Tarmac Delays (“Contingency Plan”) is another step to reach this goal.
Contingency Plan for Lengthy Tarmac Delays
This Contingency Plan has been developed to reflect our commitment as a full-service premium carrier and to provide our passengers with clear information about what they can expect from us, particularly during occasional irregular operations. The Contingency Plan contains specific commitments which will allow us to act promptly to meet our customer’s needs and expectations.
The Contingency Plan is adopted for the departure or arrival of international flights at covered U.S. airports operated with an aircraft equal to or greater than 30 passenger seats by Lufthansa. This Contingency Plan is subject to change without notice and is separate from and does not form part of Lufthansa’s Contract of Carriage.
Lufthansa’s Commitment to its Customers:
For international flights covered by this Contingency Plan, Lufthansa will not permit an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than four hours and return to the gate, or another suitable disembarkation point, where passengers will be allowed to deplane.
Delays longer than four hours may be necessary if there are safety-related or security-related restrictions or air traffic control advises the pilot-in-command that returning to the gate or permitting passengers to disembark elsewhere would significantly disrupt airport operations.
Lufthansa will provide information about a change in the status of a flight within 30 minutes after becoming aware of such a change and will update delay information every 30 minutes thereafter, including reasons for the delay, if known.
Passengers on delayed flights will be notified beginning 30 minutes after scheduled departure time, including any revised departure time that passengers were notified about during boarding, and every 30 minutes thereafter that they have the opportunity to deplane from an aircraft that is at the gate or another disembarkation area with the door open if the opportunity to deplane actually exists.
For all flights covered by this Contingency Plan, Lufthansa will provide adequate food and potable water no later than two hours after the aircraft leaves the gate (in the case of departure) or touches down (in the case of arrival) if the aircraft remains on the tarmac.
Service may be precluded if there are safety-related or security-related restrictions or the pilot-in-command determines that the commencement of service would lead to further delays or missed opportunities for departure.
For all flights covered by this Contingency Plan, Lufthansa will provide operable lavatory facilities, as well as adequate medical attention if needed, while the aircraft remains on the tarmac.
Lufthansa has sufficient resources to implement this Contingency Plan.
Lufthansa has coordinated this Contingency Plan with local airport authorities, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at each U.S. large hub airport, medium hub airport, small hub airport and non-hub airport that the carrier serves, as well as its regular U.S. diversion airport.
Departure Delay Exception: An aircraft departing from a US airport located in an area of the tarmac not under the carrier’s control will be considered to have begun to return to a suitable disembarkation point (stopping the tarmac delay clock) when a “request is made to the FAA control tower, airport authority or other relevant authority directing the aircraft’s operations” (rather than when permission is granted, as is the case under DOT’s prior regulations/policy). If the aircraft is in an area controlled by the carrier, the “tarmac delay clock” will stop when the aircraft begins maneuvering to the disembarkation point. The departure delay exception only applies when carriers begin to return to a suitable disembarkation point specifically to deplane passengers. If a flight begins to return to a suitable disembarkation point but does not provide passengers an opportunity to deplane, absent a safety/security or ATC exception, the exemption would not apply.
Start of Tarmac Delay: For an aircraft departing from a US airport, the tarmac delay clock will start when the main aircraft door is closed rather at than the gate departure time (i.e., the time the aircraft pushes back from the gate). However, in acknowledging there may be a few instances in which the opportunity to deplane may still exist after the aircraft doors are closed (for example, when the jet bridge is still attached to the aircraft and the crew is available and willing to open the aircraft door immediately to allow a passenger to deplane), DOT will allow carriers to present evidence that the opportunity to deplane exists even with the doors closed. Evidence that the carrier made announcements that the opportunity to deplane was available and that the aircraft doors could be opened as soon as a passenger requested to deplane would be sufficient to show that an opportunity existed.
Flight Diversions: Diversions will be treated as arriving flights up to the point when passengers have an opportunity to deplane. Thereafter, the diversion will be treated as a departing flight and after that point, the departure delay exception could apply if a flight begins to return to a suitable disembarkation point to deplane passengers within the timeframes specified in the exception.
Record Retention/Reporting Requirements: The new rule eliminates the tarmac delay record retention requirement in the prior rule and replaces it with a reporting requirement. The reports must include the same information required to be retained under existing rule and is due within 30 days of the date of an excessive tarmac delay incident. DOT acknowledges carriers’ concerns regarding certifying the accuracy of the information, and only requires that the submitting airline state that, “to its knowledge and belief, the submitted report is true and correct based on the information available at the time of submission”.
Status Announcements: Airlines are now required to notify passengers only once regarding the status of the delay when a tarmac delay exceeds 30 minutes. The rule clarifies that each carrier may provide subsequent updates, including flight status changes and additional information beyond the requirements of the rule, as the carrier deems appropriate, but expects that carriers “will continue to notify passengers regarding changes is the status of the delay as changes occur.”
Deplaning Announcements: Each time an opportunity to deplane exists at a suitable disembarkation point, a carrier must timely notify the passengers on board the aircraft that they have the opportunity to deplane. Carriers are no longer required to make deplaning announcements every 30 minutes, as required by the existing rule, but must make a timely announcement when the opportunity to deplane arises, including in situations in which the aircraft returns to the gate on departure or during a diversion when an aircraft is parked and awaiting departure to the intended destination. In determining whether a deplaning announcement is timely, DOT will consider various factors, including the length of time that the opportunity to deplane exists prior to an announcement being made and whether a lack of a deplaning announcement had the effect of depriving passengers of an opportunity to deplane. DOT will not require that carriers provide deplaning announcements during the boarding process or prior to the scheduled departure time of the flight.
Safety/Security Exceptions: The 4-hour tarmac delay limit will not apply if: “the pilot-in-command determines that deplaning passengers at a suitable disembarkation point would jeopardize passenger safety or security, or there is a safety related or security related reason why the aircraft cannot leave its position on the tarmac to deplane passengers.”
Food and Water: Previously, carriers were required to provide food and water no later than two hours after the aircraft leaves the gate (in the case of a departure) or touches down (in the case of an arrival) if the aircraft remains on the tarmac, unless a safety or security exception applies. However, the tarmac delay clock begins after the main aircraft door has closed in preparation for departure. As a result, carriers were required to track two separate start times (e.g., if the aircraft door closes but the aircraft does not leave the gate for some time.) The new rule requires that the carrier provide food and water no later than two hours after the tarmac delay begins, unless there are safety or security considerations that would preclude doing so (such as an active taxi/approaching the runway for takeoff).