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YES, we need an airline passenger's bill of rights!

I hate to fly--a feeling that's only been compounded since having children. Now that feeling is even stronger after my husband, my two kids (5 and 22 months), and I were trapped (aka jailed)--in cramped coach seats--on a Northwest jet in Newark for close to 3 hours. We were out on the tarmac, probably several hundred feet from where we boarded the plane. And to make matters worse, they shut down one engine (in a plane that was already hot when we boarded it) "to save gas". Only problem was: shutting down one engine meant the air conditioning got put on extra low in the middle of a heat wave. The heat in the plane was stifling and the pilot kept telling us that it should only be about 15 more minutes as we waited for a "storm to pass". I'm no meteorologist but big storms don't normally pass in 15 minutes! And it seems Northwest has a history of this: during the winter of 1999, they stranded passengers on the tarmac for EIGHT HOURS! without food and without the ability to get off the plane. At least we were let off after close to 3 hours. Needless to say, after spending the entire day at the airport, by dinnertime--with no details as to when our flight might take
off--we cancelled the trip and headed back home. As I told my husband wryly: I spent a good week and a half packing and 3 days unpacking and we went nowhere!

One daily change: Speak up for your rights--whether you've been mistreated by an airline or feel strongly about anything else. Don't keep putting it off and don't assume the problem will be taken care of without you getting involved. Personally, I've already signed the petition for an airline passenger's bill of rights at


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