The Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a hefty fine of $4.1 million against American Airlines for violating tarmac delay rules. The fine comes as a result of a consent order issued by the DOT, which accused the airline of letting 43 flights remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without giving passengers the opportunity to deplane. The incidents in question occurred between 2018 and 2021 and affected over 5,800 travelers.
In addition to the fine, American Airlines has already compensated passengers with over $2 million, resulting in a credit for half of the total penalty. The DOT stated that this is the largest fine ever issued for tarmac delay violations.
American Airlines, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, has stated that it respectfully disagrees with the enforcement action, arguing that certain tarmac delays should not warrant such penalties under extreme circumstances. The airline claims that the delays were the result of exceptional weather events and represent a small number of flights compared to the millions operated during the same period.
The DOT's tarmac delay rules require airlines to allow passengers to deplane after three hours and provide food and water within two hours of the delay. The consent order alleges that American Airlines failed to comply with these requirements in one instance.
American Airlines has expressed its commitment to providing a positive travel experience and complying with all DOT requirements. The company has invested significant time and resources to improve tarmac delay performance, including the use of a Hub Efficiency Analytics Tool (HEAT) and the implementation of smart gating technology to reduce congestion and waiting times.
DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg emphasized the agency's dedication to enforcing the rights of airline passengers in the press release announcing the fine.
Despite this violation, American Airlines has had a successful year thus far, with record travel and an improved profit outlook. The airline and its regional partners have operated nearly one million flights in the first two quarters of the year.
In conclusion, the DOT's fine against American Airlines highlights the importance of adhering to tarmac delay rules and ensuring the comfort and well-being of passengers. The airline has expressed regret for any inconvenience caused and has taken steps to improve its performance in this area.