What the better solution might be, I don’t know. But I do know that airline delays are complex and fickle—the types of situations that don’t respond well to regulation based on arbitrary time limits. Like the mandatory sentencing guidelines so despised by many judges and public defenders, these rules can cause more problems than they solve..
Cynical flyers sometimes contend that pilots and cabin attendants actually delight in long delays because we’re able to collect overtime pay. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of how crews are (or aren’t) compensated, this is nonsense. If you’re envisioning a pair of pilots up there in the cockpit, rubbing their hands and making that annoying cash register sound, believe me, that’s not what’s happening. We don’t enjoy these situations any more than you do. Unfortunately, we are more or less at the mercy of staff overseeing and coordinating things, often from afar. Short of declaring Associate in Nursing emergency, something for which he’d need to answer both to the FAA and his superiors, the captain cannot unilaterally decide to let people off the airplane Associate in Nursing out onto a paved surface or an icy apron. Neither can he simply drive the plane up to the terminal and open the doors.
As for the idea of passengers taking matters into their own hands and initiating their own evacuation, as is sometimes suggested, I reckon that half of them would wind up breaking their legs or clobbering themselves with their carry-ons as they plummet down the escape slides. Those slides can be two stories tall, and they are very steep. They are not designed with convenience in mind. They are there to get a planeload of people out of and away from the aircraft as quickly as possible during an emergency—without their belongings..