Lengthy tarmac delay plan
What happens if your flight gets delayed when you're onboard?
This page explains what a Tarmac Delay is, and details what you can expect in the event of a Tarmac Delay. Alternatively, if you are looking for Tarmac Delay information for China visit this page.
Very occasionally, flights are delayed on the ground while passengers are on board, either before takeoff or after landing. This is known as a Tarmac Delay.
When this happens, we aim to make sure you are as comfortable as possible while we wait for the delay to be resolved.
It's important to be prepared in case you are delayed.
If you need medication, baby food or other specific or individual dietary items, please make sure you bring enough of these on board with you in your hand luggage (where restrictions allow) so you can access them in case of a lengthy delay.
On this page you'll find:
We don't permit our aircraft to remain on the tarmac at a U.S. airport for more than four hours before allowing passengers to disembark, unless our pilot-in-command decides there is a safety-related or security-related reason why the aircraft can't leave its position on the tarmac to allow passengers to disembark.
Air traffic control may also prevent the pilot from authorising passengers to disembark. Air traffic control may advise our pilot-in-command that returning to the gate - or another disembarkation point - would significantly disrupt airport operations. (Section 1 Our Tarmac Delay Plan)
When there is a delay, we will provide adequate food and drinking water no later than two hours after the aircraft leaves the gate (for departures) or lands (for arrivals), unless our pilot-in-command determines that safety or security considerations preclude such service. In most cases, 'adequate food' is considered to be snack type items such as cereal bars, pretzels or biscuits. (Section 2: Our Tarmac Delay Plan)
We will make sure bathrooms are available, and provide adequate medical assistance (if needed) while the aircraft remains on the tarmac.
Our cabin crew are trained to provide basic first aid assistance on the aircraft, and would seek further medical assistance as necessary for any onboard emergency, which may include disembarking the passenger for treatment with the assistance of airport emergency personnel. (Section 3 Our Tarmac Delay Plan)
We will issue notifications regarding the status of the delay every 30 minutes while the aircraft is delayed, including the reasons for the Tarmac Delay, if known. We will begin to notify you 30 minutes after scheduled departure time and every 30 minutes thereafter that if the opportunity to disembark exists you have the opportunity to get off the aircraft.
The opportunity to disembark can only be authorised by our pilot-in-command after the scheduled departure time, taking into consideration the safety and security of other passengers, the crew and the aircraft and any directions issued by air traffic control.
This information applies to international flights. If any passenger disembarks (once their bags have been loaded), this will result in a security search of the cabin they were originally seated in and the offloading of all their hold baggage.
Passengers wishing to disembark after a three-hour Tarmac Delay should be aware that they do so at their own risk. There is no guarantee they will be able to re-board that flight once their bags have been removed and the cabin searched before the aircraft departs.
Passengers who choose to disembark and subsequently miss their flight (who hold a non-refundable ticket) will not be entitled to a refund. Regardless of ticket type, passengers who choose to disembark and subsequently miss their flight will NOT be entitled to the protections offered under EU regulation 261/2004 including the right to rebooking or overnight accommodation, refreshments and ground transport.
We have co-ordinated our Tarmac Contingency Plan with the airport authorities, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at each US airport that we fly to, as well as the US airports we have designated as our diversion airports. (Section 7: Our Tarmac Delay Plan)
If you are on a code share flight the Tarmac Contingency Plan of the operating airline will govern your flight. (Section 8: Our Tarmac Delay plan)
Other useful links
Download our information sheet: Compensation and assistance in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellation or delay.
View Tarmac Delay Contingency Plans for other countries.
Find out more about Flight Disruptions.