Courtesy of American Airlines/Instagram
The U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday fined American Airlines $4.1 million dollars for dozens of delays that kept passengers on the tarmac for hours, with $2.05 million credited back to the company for compensation already provided to affected passenger.
According to the DOT, it is the largest civil penalty the department has issued for violations of its tarmac delay rule.
The DOT’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection found 43 domestic flights between 2018 and 2021 remained on the tarmac for longer than three hours without allowing passengers to deplane, in violation of the tarmac delay rule. The delays affected 5,821 passengers, the department said.
“This is the latest action in our continued drive to enforce the rights of airline passengers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Whether the issue is extreme tarmac delays or problems getting refunds, DOT will continue to protect consumers and hold airlines accountable.”
Of the $4.1 million fine, $2.05 million will be credited to the airline for compensation provided to passengers on the affected flights. The agency said it “encourages airlines to compensate passengers by providing these credits so that a portion of the civil penalties that would have been paid to the Federal Treasury is instead used to compensate the affected passengers.”
Earlier this year, the DOT proposed new rules to require airlines compensate passengers and provide meals, hotels, and rebooking when airlines are responsible for canceled or significantly delayed flights.
Although the rule has not yet been approved, the DOT said the 10 largest airlines now guarantee meals and free rebooking on the same airline, while nine guarantee hotel accommodations as part of the Department’s Airline Customer Service Dashboard. If approved, the rule would make passenger compensation and amenities mandatory, the department said.
TMX contributed to this article.