United Airlines has been fined a record $1.1 million for 13 flight delays at O’Hare International Airport last year. This is the biggest fine the Department of Transportation has ever assessed on a single airline. All 13 flight delays happened on the same day after severe thunderstorms and lightning caused several ramp closures.
The Department of Transportation implemented a rule in 2010 that prohibits U.S. airlines from remaining on a tarmac for more than three hours without deplaning passengers. These are the guidelines:
- Food and water must be provided to passengers after the second hour of being delayed on the tarmac.
- Required to maintain functional restrooms
- If plane is at the gate, the airline must announce the opportunity to deplane 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time and every 30 minutes after that.
- If plane is on the tarmac, the airline is required to allow passengers to deplane if they’ve been waiting for more than three hours
- Delays must be reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation
- Airlines can be fined up to $275,500 per passengers.
The United delays were between three and four hours. More than 900 passengers remained on the 13 airplanes during their delays. Reports say United did not request help from airport personnel or other airlines. Reports also say there was trouble with bathrooms on two of the airplane.
Federal investigators determined that United didn’t use any contingency plans to manage the delays.
Check out Peter’s report on CBS Chicago below and keep reading for more history on tarmac delay fines.