Lengthy Tarmac Delay Contingency Plan
The safety and comfort of our customers is our #1 objective at Elite Airways. With that in mind, Elite Airways works hard to avoid extended tarmac delay situations. However, should these unexpected situations arise, Elite Airways has developed and maintains a plan to resolve the delay as quickly as possible, as well as working to mitigate the impact and inconvenience to our customers. Elite Airways' Flight Operations Control center is responsible for the execution of this plan, while keeping in mind the safety and wellbeing of our passengers. Our plan ensures that we will have adequate resources available to administer the plan.
At each airport where we fly (including diversion airports), our contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays has been made available and coordinated with airport authorities, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and U.S. Customs & Border Protection. Should the need arise; we will work with airport authorities and other airlines to share and/or acquire the necessary equipment (including gates) to allow for passenger deplaning.
DOT Regulations require any domestic flight to return to a gate and/or afford passengers the opportunity to deplane at a safe, remote location if the main cabin door has been closed for more than three (3) hours (4 hours for international flights). This may result in situations where a flight's departure may be imminent, but is forced to return to a gate or remote location to comply with Federal regulations. There are three exceptions, which allow an aircraft to remain off the gate beyond three hours (four hours for international flights):
- For departing flights, the aircraft is considered to have begun returning to suitable disembarkation point when a request is made to Air Traffic Control (ATC), airport authority, or other relevant authority directing the aircraft's operations (if the aircraft is in an area not under Elite Airways' control), or when the pilot begins maneuvering the aircraft to a suitable disembarkation point (if the aircraft is in an area under Elite Airways' control).
- If the pilot-in-command (PIC) determines that permitting passengers to deplane would significantly would jeopardize passenger safety or security.
- Air Traffic Control (ATC) advises the pilot-in-command (PIC) that returning to a gate or permitting passengers to disembark/deplane elsewhere would significantly disrupt airport operations.
In an effort to make sure that no flight is subjected to an excessive tarmac delay situation Elite Airways has established an action timeline with established trigger points which assist in the management and mitigation of these situations:
- 60 minutes after the main cabin door has been closed or after a flight has landed, Elite Airways will activate its Tarmac Delay Program (TDP).
- At 90 minutes, the pilot-in-command and Flight Control will communicate as to the reason for the continued delay and the expected end of the tarmac delay.
- No later than 120 minutes after main cabin door closure (or landing) our in-flight team will ensure that all passengers have been afforded the opportunity to receive food and water.
- At 150 minutes, unless the pilot in command deems that departure is imminent, the aircraft will look to return to a gate or move to a remote parking location where passengers can be afforded the opportunity to deplane.
- By no later than 180 minutes after main cabin door closure (or landing), regulations require Elite Airways (domestic) flights to be back in a gate, or at a remote location, where passengers have the opportunity to deplane (except for that time during which a departing flight is actively in the process of returning to a suitable disembarkation point).
As established in our contingency plan, during an extended tarmac delay situation, Elite Airways will ensure that:
- A comfortable temperature is maintained throughout the passenger cabin.
- Access to medical attention is available to meet all requests, including the use of a third party medical consultation service.
- All lavatories are clean, operable and available provided the pilot-in-command has indicated that it is safe and secure for customers to move about the aircraft cabin.
- At no later than 120 minutes into the tarmac delay, all passengers will be provided with food and water, unless the pilot-in-command determines that safety or security considerations preclude such service.
Elite Airways will ensure that passengers on board a flight experiencing an extended tarmac delay are notified as to the status of the delay when the delay exceeds 30 minutes, and are provided with updates when additional information becomes available. Updates will include, when possible, the reason for the delay and the expected departure (wheels-up) time for the flight.
Elite Airways will ensure that passengers on a delayed flight will be notified 30 minutes after closure of the main cabin door that the opportunity to deplane from an aircraft that is at the gate exists. Passengers will be notified of the opportunity to deplane any time thereafter when the opportunity to deplane actually exists, unless:
- Air Traffic Control (ATC) advises the pilot-in-command (PIC) that deplaning would significantly disrupt airport operations.
- The pilot-in-command (PIC) determines that permitting a passenger to deplane would jeopardize passenger safety or security.
We'd also like our customers to be aware of certain customer service provisions during a flight experiencing an extended tarmac delay.
- If a flight returns to the departure gate or diverts from the planned destination, in most cases, the delayed or diverted flight will attempt to continue to its final destination after passengers who have chosen to deplane do so.
- If needed, the deplaning of customers will take place when it is safe and secure to do so, either at a gate or at an approved remote parking position via stairs and ground transportation.
- Any customer(s) who chooses to deplane from a flight that has experienced a lengthy tarmac delay and make alternative travel arrangements may do so when it is determined to be safe and secure, after the aircraft has been moved into position for deplaning, all operational requirements for deplaning have been completed, and the pilot-in-command has allowed customer deplaning to begin.
- Passengers should be aware that should they choose to deplane, they do so at their own risk and the flight could depart anytime without them. We will make reasonable attempts, via airport announcements, to communicate the new departure time of the flight. In cases where an aircraft that has returned to a gate, customers may be advised how long the aircraft will remain at the gate to determine how much time (if any) customers may spend inside the terminal prior to having to re-board the aircraft for the continuation of the flight.
- Customers who chose to deplane and/or make alternative travel arrangements should be aware that on most domestic flights their checked baggage will remain on the aircraft. In cases where a flight returns to the gate and is canceled baggage will be returned to the baggage claim area.
- In instances where customers are permitted to deplane at a remote aircraft parking position, reboarding the aircraft may not be possible due to security requirements and therefore will not be available.