Can-Do Kate Hanni Stepping Down from FlyerRights


It was an ugly and inelegant place to start. On Dec 29, 2006, Kate Hanni was stuck aboard American Airlines Flight 1348 for nine hours on the tarmac in Austin. “It was imprisonment,” she told news outlets. With deliberation and derring-do she then gathered 18,000 signatures supporting a passenger’s bill of rights, including the three-hour rule.

Kate Hanni became a regular in the lobbyists’ halls of Washington and on television news shows. The blamelessly beautiful hay-bale blonde mother was Horatio standing up to the airlines who were preening and cultivating condescension, even disdain, toward their customers.

Can-do Kate Hanni was every American out there on the tarmac. By comparison, the airlines looked homemade and seedy. An axiom suggests men are driven by lust, women by boredom and the smallness of men. On the tarmac delay that day, Kate was bored and the airlines looked small.

The three-hour rule offers regulatory protection against domestic tarmac delays of three hours or longer. Food, water and clean lavatories are another demand. Today, passengers must be allowed to disembark after three-hours delay. Fines to the airlines for violating the rule are as high as $27,500 per passenger.

Many of today’s regulatory stipulations resulted from the hard work of Kate Hanni. Climbing on rungs of drive and ambition, with a grass-roots message like an alarm clock that won’t shut off, she went on to become the executive director of, a position she recently stepped down from. I have my cap off.

Paul Hudson, currently serving on the FlyerRights’ executive board, takes over as executive director. He is the former president and founder of Pan Am 103 Victims Family Organization. Hudson’s 16-year-old daughter died when a terrorist bomb brought that flight down over Scotland in 2006.

FlyersRights has more than 25,000 members championing consumer advocacy within the airline industry. Kate Hanni was like a force of nature, probably the loudest voice calling for the government to hold airlines accountable for long delays that left flyers stuck onboard for long ground delays.

The number of domestic flights exceeding three-hour delays on the tarmac back when Ms. Hanni became an advocate were reported to be as high as 462 flights a month (June 2007). Today those numbers are way down.


More in:

Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • crzn at 5:26am February 17, 2013

    ” Hudson’s 16-year-old daughter died when a terrorist bomb brought that flight down over Scotland in 2006.”

    The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland was on December 21, 1988!

Leave Reply

You must be a logged in member to post a comment. Click here to Register.