WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Association for Airline Passenger Rights, (AAPR) applauded the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (“DOT”) decision to levy the first-of-its-kind fine under its new tarmac delay rule. The $900,000 fine, which was announced against American Eagle, came in response to excessive tarmac delays at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on May 29, 2011, which impacted 15 flights and 608 passengers.
“DOT’s decision to exercise its regulatory authority to fine American Eagle for excessive tarmac delays is a small victory for airline passengers in their ongoing fight to force the airline industry to treat its customers humanely during incidents such as the one that occurred on May 29th at O’Hare,” said Brandon M. Macsata, Executive Director of the Association for Airline Passenger Rights. “While we most certainly don’t hold airlines accountable for inclement weather, we definitely hold them responsible for the way in which they respond to the bad weather especially when it results in passengers being trapped on the runway for lengthy periods of time. We hope that this fine sends a strong message to the airlines.”
According to DOT, a total of $650,000 must be paid within 30 days, and up to $250,000 can be credited for refunds, vouchers, and frequent flyer mile awards provided to the passengers on the 15 flights on May 29, as well as to passengers on future flights that experience lengthy tarmac delays of less than three hours.