New York becomes first US state with Air Passenger Bill Of Rights

New York has become the first US state that requires airlines to provide passengers with "food, water, fresh air, power and working restrooms on any flight that has left the gate and been on the tarmac for more than three hours", by law.

This week, New York governor Eliot Spitzer signed into effect a new law mandating a passenger bill of rights. The legislation, slated to go into effect next January, aims to "ensure airline passengers on severely delayed flights operating out of New York airports are provided with basic customer protections".

The legislation follows several incidents of extreme delays at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport earlier this year, including storm-induced delays and cancellations that stranded more than 100,000 JetBlue customers, some of whom were grounded for hours at the airport and in airplanes.

Since then, the carrier has implemented its own bill of rights, which guarantees compensation for passengers facing extended delays.

The US House of Representatives and Senate are also in the process of creating a national passenger bill of rights. The Senate version is sponsored by Rep Mike Thompson (D-Calif) and Sen Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) and contains language similar to the New York law.

That bill also gives passengers the right to leave the plane after three hours, which is not included in the New York law.

The New York law establishes the Office of the Airline Consumer Advocate within New York's Consumer Protection Board to oversee carrier compliance and adjudicate on passenger complaints.

Airlines can face fines of up to $1,000 per passenger, the law mandates.