Tarmac delay contingency plan – U.S. airports
Every American Airlines, Envoy, PSA and Piedmont team has a comprehensive contingency plan to respond to lengthy onboard ground (tarmac) delays at U.S. airports.
- Ensures we’ll have adequate resources available to meet your needs
- Names a control person to coordinate local teams and communicate with central operations centers
At each U.S. airport we serve, plans are coordinated with:
- Local airport authorities
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
- U.S. Customs
- Border Protection at each U.S. airport regularly used for international flights
We also have plans for all airports we regularly serve (including our designated diversion airports) to make reasonable efforts to share facilities and gates with other carriers in an emergency and during irregular operations such as extreme weather. Gates would be made available in accordance with established operational priorities (i.e. medical emergencies, maintenance concerns) and local gate compatibility constraints. If a gate is not available and deplaning is necessary, other equipment such as air stairs will be made available to deplane passengers.
Unless otherwise noted, marketed international and / or codeshare flights (AA flight number operated by another carrier) follow their own tarmac delay contingency plan. This contingency plan is explicitly separate from and not a part of these carriers' contract of carriage.
Limits of lengthy tarmac delays
Lengthy tarmac delays can take place both during taxi-out (prior to departure) and taxi-in (after landing). During these phases of travel, these limits apply:
- For domestic flights, American Airlines, Envoy, PSA and Piedmont will not permit an aircraft to remain on the tarmac at a U.S. airport for more than three hours without providing passengers an opportunity to deplane. For departing flights, the clock measuring the three-hour period stops when the aircraft begins to return to a suitable disembarkation point, and American will begin to return to a gate or another suitable disembarkation point no later than three hours for domestic departure flights.
- For international flights departing from or arriving at a U.S. airport, American Airlines, Envoy, PSA and Piedmont will not permit an aircraft to remain on the tarmac at a U.S. airport for more than four hours without providing passengers an opportunity to deplane. For departing flights, the clock measuring the four-hour period stops when the aircraft begins to return to a suitable disembarkation point, and American will begin to return to a gate or another suitable disembarkation point no later than four hours for international departure flights.
Delays longer than these time limits may be necessary if:
- The pilot-in-command determines that permitting a passenger to deplane would jeopardize passenger safety or security.
- Air traffic control advises the pilot-in-command that returning to the gate or another disembarkation point elsewhere in order to deplane passengers would significantly disrupt airport operations.
Passenger services during a lengthy tarmac delay
For all flights experiencing a lengthy ground delay at a U.S. airport, American Airlines, Envoy, PSA and Piedmont will:
- Provide passengers with 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, unless the pilot-in-command determines that safety or security considerations preclude such service.
- Ensure that operable lavatory facilities will remain available while the aircraft remains on the tarmac.
- Ensure adequate medical attention is available, if needed, while the aircraft remains on the tarmac.
- Ensure a comfortable cabin temperature is maintained.
- Ensure passengers on the delayed flight will receive notifications regarding the status of the delay every 30 minutes while the aircraft is delayed, including the reasons for the tarmac delay, if known.
- Notify passengers on a delayed flight beginning 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time (including any revised departure time that passengers were notified about before 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.
At American Airlines, Envoy, PSA and Piedmont, the safety and comfort of our customers is always an important priority, especially during flight delays. We are confident our contingency plans will lessen your inconvenience.