Tarmac Delay Policy Chart
Airline Policy Goes Into Effect After a Delay of... Status Updates Food, Water, Lavatories & Medical Care "Light at the End of the Tunnel" Clause Compensation
Airtran Not Specified  "will provide the best information available to us"

"refreshements available on request"

"ensure that lavatories remain serviceable"

"professional medical assistance made available if necessary" 

Mentions deplaning.

Doesn't specify time-frame. 

None Mentioned 
Alaska

 Taxi-out: (before take-off) Over 1.5 hours

Taxi-in: (after landing) Over 1 hr

"At least every 30 minutes" 

"aircraft servicing (lavatory service and/or catering services) may be arranged if recommended by the flight crew" 

"flight crew has access to medical professionals, via MedLink, a contracted medical advisory service"

"It is always our intent to deplane within an hour of the time a contingency plan is activated and never more than two hours after your arrival."  For a delay of more than 2 hours you get frequent flyer miles, but not if the delay is due to weather, air traffic control, or "extraordinary circumstance beyond our control"
Allegiant Not Specified Not Specified  Not Specified  Not Specified None Mentioned
American

Taxi-out: Over 2 hours

Taxi-in: Over 2 hours

Not Specified "food (snack bar such as a Nutri-Grain) water, restroom facilities and basic medical assistance" Not Specified  None Mentioned
Continental

Taxi-out: Over 2 hours

Taxi-in: Over 2 hours

Every 20 minutes "adequate food, potable water, adequate restroom facilities and access to necessary medical treatment"  2-3 hour delay results in initiating gate return and deplaning  None Mentioned
Delta

Taxi-out: Over 2 hours

Taxi-in: Over 1 hour 

"will make timely announcements" 

"snacks, beverages"

"make every reasonable effort to ensure aircraft is properly serviced" 

Mentions deplaning.

Doesn't specify time-frame. 

None Mentioned

(unless free headsets and in-flight entertainment count) 

Frontier

Not Specified

Not Specified "make every possible effort to provide food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical treatment" Not Specified  None Mentioned
JetBlue

Taxi-out: Over 3 hours

Taxi-in: Over 1 hour

Not Specified  "food, drink, access to clean restrooms and as necessary, medical treatment" Will take necessary action to deplane for delays over 5 hours Issues vouchers for future travel that increase in value with the increase of the length of the delay 
Northwest

Taxi-out: Over 5 minutes past scheduled departure

Taxi-in: Over 1 hour

Every 15 minutes

Not Specified

When a taxi-out reaches 3 hours, gate return is initiated.

When a taxi-in reaches 1 hour, "event recovery plan" is initiated. 

Issues "service recovery packets," which can include frequent flyer miles or a travel discount certificate, as well as meal vouchers. Values increase for longer delays. 
Spirit Not Specified  Not Specified "may provide limited amenities and services, which may be required by certain passengers in order to maintain their safety, health and welfare... provided as a courtesy and are not to be considered an obligation"  Not Specified  None Mentioned
Southwest

Taxi-out: Over 2 hours

Taxi-in: Over 2 hours

"will provide the best information available to us"

"Refreshments available on request"

"make every reasonable effort to ensure that lavatories remain serviceable:

"professional medical assistance... if necessary"

Mentions deplaning.

Doesn't specify time-frame.

None Mentioned
United

Taxi-out: Over 3 hours

Taxi-in: Over 1 hour

"best available information... in a timely manner" "provide food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical treatment"  Not Specified  For taxi-out delays over 4 hours and taxi-in delays over 1.5 hours, discount travel certificates are issued. 
US Airways

Taxi-out:  1 hour

Taxi-in: Not Specified

Will start to update you at 5 minutes "provide food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical treatment"  "At 3 hours, information about the flight is escalated through US Airways' senior operations management for a decision about returning to the gate."  None Mentioned
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