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Passengers Lobby for Airline Reform

Posted Sep 17, 2007 3:42 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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After spending nine hours in an American Airlines jetliner sitting on the tarmac late last year, passenger Kate Hanni emerged from the ordeal with a new avocation—airline reform lobbyist.

Hanni, 47, has created a lobbying arm, a Web site, and a passenger complaint hotline, met with over 150 legislators, given dozens of media interviews, and collected 18,000 petition signatures from a group that is notoriously difficult to organize. On Wednesday, her Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights is staging a rally in Washington, D.C., that will feature a 28-foot airline model that will replicate the experience of being stranded on a grounded plane for hours, reports the Washington Post.

"It will be stinky," promises Hanni.

She and her supporters hope to persuade Congress to enact legislation that would would require planes to return to the gate after sitting on the runway for more than three hours, and require airlines to provide passengers with food and water in the meantime, among other measures. While the bill appears unlikely to pass because of opposition from the airline industry, Hanni's lobbying has helped persuade carriers and legislators include some such reforms in voluntary programs and other bills, according to the Post.

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