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United Airlines fined $1.9 million for making passengers sit on plane for hours during delays Blog
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United Airlines fined for US tarmac delays.
Federal regulators have fined United Airlines $1.9 million for repeatedly keeping passengers on the plane during long tarmac delays.
The United States Department of Transportation said that between December 2015 and February 2021, United allowed 20 domestic flights and five international flights to remain on the tarmac at various US airports for lengthy periods without providing passengers the opportunity to deplane.
3,218 passengers were affected.
One example was a Chicago-bound flight which was diverted to an airport in Wisconsin because of a winter storm and sat on the tarmac for more than four hours without passengers being allowed to exit the aircraft.
The longest delay occurred in 2016 after an international flight bound for Houston diverted to New Orleans. Passengers were only given a chance to deplane after over five-hours when the pilots exceeded their legal working day and had to be replaced with another crew.
Federal rules require carriers to give passengers an opportunity to return to the terminal if a plane on a domestic flight sits on the ground for at least three hours — four hours in the case of international flights.
United defended the delays saying they were mostly involved diversions caused by severe weather.
“We remain committed to fully meeting all DOT rules and will continue identifying and implementing improvements in how we manage difficult operating conditions while maintaining the safety of our customers and employees,” a United spokesman said.
Fines for other airlines have been much smaller. The DOT fined Aerolíneas Argentinas $300,000 in late 2020 for tarmac delays, and earlier last year it fined Concesionaria Vuela Compañía de Aviación, the Mexican airline known as Volaris, $70,000.