7 Reasons for Travelers to Thank Ray LaHood

The term activist was so frequently appended to Ray LaHood’s name that it sometimes seemed part of his title, and now that he’s announced he’s leaving his post as Secretary of the Department of Transportation, it’s time to take a look at his some of his achievements over the past four years.

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If LaHood didn’t spearhead these initiatives, he was the DOT’s head cheerleader and all occurred under his watch.

1. Change in pilot fatigue rules: A couple of stories about pilot fatigue – including the two pilots who both slept and overshot their Hawaii destination – may have been the catalyst for new rules giving pilots more rest.

2. Increased bumping compensation: If you get bumped from a flight against your will, you now get as much as $1,300 to pay for your inconvenience.

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3. The 3-hour rule for tarmac delays: After several horror stories of passenger ordeals as jets idled for hours on tarmacs, the 3-hour rule was born complete with scary fines for violators. Result: tarmac delays have almost completely disappeared.

4. Streamlined security rules: After LaHood saw a video of a frightened looking child undergoing a pat-down, he said he’d “hate to see this happen to his granddaughter” and youngsters aged 12 and under soon got an easier security experience – and so did seniors.

5. More fines: If the DOT felt an airline was violating any rules, big or small, it slammed the carrier with a fee and American, Delta, Spirit and many others felt the financial sting over the years.

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6. NextGen airport improvements: Way past time to bring the nation’s air traffic control system into the 21st century but it’s happening at last.

7. Distracted driver campaign: LaHood went after those who text or phone while driving, which may have made the drive to and from the airport at least a little bit safer.

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Published: January 29, 2013