PERSONAL EXPLANATION; Congressional Record Vol. 157, No. 147
(Extensions of Remarks - October 04, 2011)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1760]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                          PERSONAL EXPLANATION


                         HON. NICK J. RAHALL II

                            of west virginia

                    in the house of representatives

                        Tuesday, October 4, 2011

  Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Speaker, I regret that I was prevented from casting 
votes during last Monday night's session due to repeated delays of a 
flight from Charleston, West Virginia, to Washington. Had I been 
present, I would have voted in support of all three measures brought 
before the House--H.R. 686, H.R. 765, and H.R. 670.
  The flight, originally scheduled to depart at 4:50 p.m., did not 
leave Charleston until after 9 p.m., more than four hours late. In that 
time, the airline offered numerous excuses--maintenance, delayed 
flights that had backed up the system. Numerous alternative departure 
times were put forward and then retracted. Within one four-minute span, 
the airline emailed four different departure and arrival times. At 
moments, the arrival/departure information was so confused that the 
airplane would have had to violate the laws of physics in order to 
abide by the airline schedule. This is an all too often occurrence and 
often maintenance delay excuses are used to cover crew issues and/or 
other problems.
  Needless to say, all passengers were inconvenienced and the airline's 
explanations were wholly unsatisfactory. This flight delay prevented me 
from carrying out my Constitutional duty to represent the people of 
southern West Virginia: I feel I owe them and this body an explanation 
about why that was not possible last night.
  I recognize that flight delays happen and perhaps at times no one is 
to blame. But, given how disruptive and costly delays and cancellations 
can be, travelers ought to be able to depend upon consistent, timely 
air service to all communities, even in rural areas.
  Rural communities depend on air service like any other communities. 
It connects us to the global economy. Our businesses need to ship their 
goods. Our families, workers, and students need to travel. We need 
reliable, dependable air service. According to GAO, airports in rural 
communities have higher rates of delays and cancellations than airports 
in larger communities. That's simply not acceptable.
  As the Ranking Member on the Committee on Transportation and 
Infrastructure, I feel acutely aware of the transportation challenges 
this nation faces, and as I sat in that airport last evening--like so 
many other passengers at that airport and others across the nation--I 
was frustrated by the delay, annoyed at the changing excuses offered by 
the airline, and angered that I was unable to get to work on time.
  During all that time that I sat in the airport, I had plenty of time 
to think and to boil over that I was sitting there at the mercy of an 
airline whose veracity continued to come into increasing doubt. But I 
also had time to ponder our work here.
  We are in a great debate in this country about our federal budget, 
while at the same time we are struggling to get people back to work and 
get our economic engine humming again. I believe that improving our 
transportation system has to be one of our top priorities. We need to 
do more to ensure the efficient transportation of people and goods. We 
need to stop announcing delay, after delay. We need to stop offering 
political excuses.
  Otherwise, while we hold the future of our citizens captive, forcing 
them to wait and wait, we will only succeed in making them more and 
more frustrated and angry.
  We had better get off our duffs, come together, and make some real 
progress on a longterm measure that will ensure improvements to our 
transportation system and greater safety and reliability to business 
and the traveling public. And we had better do it soon.