The US Department of Transportation reported on August 28 that it would be fining American Airlines $4.1 million for illegally keeping passengers on the plane for long periods of time.
The airlines violated the department of Transportation’s rule which prohibits airlines for keeping passengers on planes for tarmac delays that lasts more than three hours.
The fine is the highest penalty ever issued for this violation. Passengers are also owed more than $2.5 billion in refunds.
Some 43 domestic airlines were stuck on the tarmac for long periods of time without allowing passengers to deplane and the offences occurred between 2018 and 2021.
US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “This is the latest action in our continued drive to enforce the rights of airline passengers. Whether the issue is extreme tarmac delays or problems getting refunds, DOT will continue to protect consumers and hold airlines accountable.”
American Airlines at fault
The airline also did not provide passengers with food and water. Most of the time the delays were at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.
There are exceptions to the deplaning rule and these include if there are legitimate safety reasons to keep them on board. However none of the exceptions applied to the airlines in these instances.
In an interview with CBS news, the airlines said, “While these delays were the result of exceptional weather events, the flights represent a very small number of the 7.7 million flights during this time period. We have since apologized to the impacted customers and regret any inconvenience caused.”
Meanwhile in the UK, some 500 flights were delayed on August 28 as the country’s air traffic control system was hit by technical problems. The British National Air Traffic Service reported that the delay was due to a technical issue.
In an interview with the BBC, aviation consultant Alistair Rosenchein said that the shutdown was akin to having every road in the country closed.
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The photo above is from a YouTube screen grab