American Airlines, the leading U.S. carrier, is fined $4.1 million for leaving passengers stranded on tarmacs due to extended delays, attributed to “exceptional weather conditions,” according to “The Wall Street Journal.”
Historic Fine for Grounded Flights:
A series of incidents, during which American Airlines flights were immobilized for hours, prompting passengers to remain stranded, has led the U.S. Department of Transportation to impose a landmark fine on the company, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Violation of Passenger Rights:
Between 2018 and 2021, 43 domestic flights subjected passengers to endure over three-hour waits aboard immobilized planes, breaching federal regulations implemented over a decade ago to prevent such protracted delays, stated the civil aviation authority.
Stranded Passengers and Legal Limits:
Passengers on a diverted American Airlines flight to San Antonio were confined on the aircraft for more than six hours, a violation of U.S. law prohibiting domestic flight carriers from keeping passengers on board for more than three hours without deplaning.
The $4.1 million fine, the largest for such an offense, will allocate half of the sum to compensate nearly 5,821 affected passengers, underlining the Department of Transportation’s commitment to holding airlines accountable for passenger rights.
Statement from the Transportation Secretary:
Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, remarked that this fine marks another step in their ongoing mission to enforce passenger rights, ensuring airlines are responsible for issues such as excessive delays and refund problems.
American Airlines’ Defense:
American Airlines attributed the incidents to “exceptional weather conditions,” which disrupted airport traffic and forced diversions to airports ill-equipped to handle the influx of arrivals.
Challenges to Responsibility:
The airline contested responsibility for some incidents. In 2019, during a winter storm that paralyzed Washington’s airport operations, American Airlines claimed it was not at fault for the delays.
American Airlines is not the sole target of the Department of Transportation’s scrutiny; other carriers also face investigations for similar reasons. A recent case involves a Delta Airlines flight stranded for over three hours in Las Vegas, leading to flight cancellation due to soaring temperatures.