Passengers' Bill of Rights on Its Way?

Suitcase and airline tickets CBS/iStockphoto

Any airline passenger knows that being stuck in a plane on the tarmac for hours is no way to travel. Now, after a number of high profile incidents, Congress could be ready to step in and give travelers a little help.

CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg explained what legislation may be on the way, and what travelers can do now on "The Early Show."

Greenberg said traditionally airlines have resisted regulations from the government concerning their businesses, and many still do today. However, some airline officials, such as Robert L. Crandall, former chairman of American Airlines, is now in favor of the changes.

However, some airlines, Greenberg said, are making changes on their own, such as Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue. Greenberg said Jet Blue is making an effort to make a decision about letting passengers off a plane, particularly after the February 2007 debacle that stranded numerous passengers on the tarmac.

"They're really trying hard to pull the plug on these flights and say 'We're not going, let's get them off,'" Greenberg said.

Greenberg's updates on push for passenger rights

Airlines, Greenberg said, may face regulation with the Boxer-Snowe Amendment that may be voted upon soon in Congress. The amendment, he said, provides food, potable water, cabin temperature and adequate restrooms, for passengers. Also, after three hours on the tarmac, the airline must offer passengers the option to get off the plane.

However, does the amendment have what it takes to protect passengers?

Greenberg said the amendment doesn't carry much weight.

"After three hours, passengers can deplane the plane if the pilot reasonably believes that they are not going to be able to take off within 30 minutes," Greenberg said. "You and I both know that every delay is a creeping delay. Nobody ever says the plane will be delayed hours. It's always 30 minutes."

For more with Greenberg and passenger rights, click on the video below.


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