Seaborne Airlines has a comprehensive plan designed to forecast and adjust to operational challenges and minimize lengthy delays while passengers are on board the aircraft. The Dispatch Department is responsible for the daily execution of this plan, while keeping in mind the safety and well-being of our customers.
The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) tarmac delay rule establishes hard time limits for tarmac delays. Seaborne plan meets or exceeds all limits imposed by this ruling. Seaborne has developed a detailed Passenger Disruption Plan, with established trigger points, to account for those times when unforeseen constraints have caused taxi delays.
The following exceptions to the hard time limits apply to domestic and international flights:
- Safety or security reasons
- Air Traffic Control (ATC) advises the pilot-in-command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations
Seaborne disruption plan assures that Seaborne has sufficient resources and will meet the requirements of the DOT for extended tarmac delays, including diversions. This includes the three-hour domestic time limit, as well as the four-hour limit for international flights. This plan ensures that Seaborne will meet or exceed specified guidance as it pertains to provisioning, as follows: adequate food and potable water no later than one and a half hour after the aircraft leaves the gate (in the case of departure) or touches down (in the case of an arrival) if the aircraft remains on the tarmac, unless the pilot-in-command determines that safety or security considerations preclude such service; operable lavatory facilities; medical attention; and comfortable cabin temperature.
The Dispatcher at our Systems Operations Control (SOC) is responsible for the management and quality of the plan. The decision-making for this plan lies within the SOC (System Operations Control). Customer Service Agents (CSA), Flight Operations and In-Flight Service will carry out the plan at the station and flight level.
The procedures build upon the standard operating procedures now in place to handle extended on-board delays and diversions. Seaborne Airlines has a plan in place to respond to lengthy tarmac delays. Our plan ensures we will have adequate resources available. In the event of a lengthy tarmac delay the Pilot in Command (PIC) will contact our Systems Operation Control (SOC) to coordinate the communication with the Airport Tower along with the station manager and coordinate the availability of gate assignment and deplaning of passengers in the event of an emergency. At each station that we serve, for diversion, we have coordinated the same plan and incorporating our communication with local airport authorities and the Transportation Security Administration. Additionally, we coordinate with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at each airport regularly in the event of an international flight including diversion airports.
All Stations have coordinated plans with their Airport Operations and local government agencies (TSA and CBP where applicable) to meet the tarmac-delay rule’s requirements. This includes back-up methods for inoperative equipment and the provisioning and servicing the aircraft. All stations have identified resources and developed procedures that will allow them to effectively bring a plane off the runway and open the door, giving the passengers the opportunity to de-plane within specified time limits. Stations will assure that diversions are given the same priority as other taxi delays, including sharing facilities and making gates available during an emergency for passenger deplaning, allowed prior to the 3 hour mark (4 hours for international flights). Individual station plans should allow at least 30 minutes completing the task of returning to the gate and deplaning.
Announcements made by the Customer Service Agents when the aircraft is at the gate with the doors open. Once the doors close, announcements are made by the flight crew. The announcements will:
- Occur at least every 15 minutes while the aircraft is delayed
- Identify the reason for the delay, if known and tentative departure time
- Explain the possible effect of the DOT’s tarmac delay rule
- Inform customers of the ability to deplane, if the opportunity exists, beginning 30 minutes after scheduled departure (using the block- out time) and every 30 minutes thereafter
Throughout the flight delay, communication between Seaborne Systems Operations Control (SOC) and the flight crew will be on going. Both the SOC and flight crew will monitor the cabin temperature, the general environment and “mood” of the customers at all times. Seaborne Airlines will make decisions for the well-being of all customers aboard the affected flight.
Requirements of 49 U.S.C. 42301 and 14 CFR 259.4