The Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined American Airlines $4.1m for “violating federal statutes and the Department’s rule prohibiting tarmac delays of three hours or more on domestic flights without providing passengers an opportunity to deplane.”
The DOT said its investigation found American had kept “dozens of flights” on the tarmac for extended periods of time without allowing its passengers off the aircraft. It said between 2018-2021, “American allowed 43 domestic flights to remain on the tarmac for lengthy periods without providing passengers an opportunity to deplane in violation of the Department’s tarmac delay rule.”
The DOT continued, adding none of the exceptions to the tarmac delay rule applied to these flights, and on one instance passengers were not provided with any food or water.
According to the DOT, most violations occurred at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, and the tarmac delays affected a total of 5,821 passengers.
The fine handed to American Airlines represents the largest ever fine issued by the DOT for tarmac violations and is part of the DOT’s efforts to “ensure the travelling public is protected”.
U.S. 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.”
At the time of publishing, American Airlines had yet to comment.