Airlines Forced to Pay for Making Passengers Sit on Tarmac Too Long

airplaneThis certainly bodes well for those of us who are planning to fly over the holidays.

The Department of Transportation has put some muscle behind its rules prohibiting airlines from keeping passengers in airplanes stranded on the tarmac for hours on end, often without adequate food, water, or bathroom facilities. (We've all been there, right?)

On Monday, it fined a unit of American Airlines a fairly impressive chunk of change -- $900,000 -- for violating the new requirements by keeping 608 passengers on 15 different flights for more than three hours at Chicago's ultra-busy O'Hare Airport back in May.

The whopping fine was intended to "send a message to other airlines," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told The New York Times, letting them know that ignoring the rules will carry serious consequences.


Clearly, this is amazing news for travelers everywhere. (Let those travelin' hearts take wing!) There's only one way to make sure the airlines follow the rules limiting how long they can hold travelers on the tarmac on a plane -- and that is to make them pay.

The fine issued by the DOT is lower than it could have been (it could have been a staggering $16.7 million!), but it's certainly big enough to make the airlines sit up and take notice. Next time, given the choice between letting its passengers suffer in an airless, miserably packed cabin listening to screaming babies (sometimes our own) and marinating in the aroma of overused lavatories, airlines will presumably be far more likely to taxi to a gate and release those poor, unfortunate passengers from captivity -- especially if they know not doing so will cost them dearly.

Are you relieved to hear that the DOT is willing to fine airlines that keep passengers in planes on the tarmac for too long?


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