The Federal Transportation Department has recently penalized three airlines for leaving forty-seven passengers stranded overnight at a Rochester, Minnesota airport. The amount of the penalty was $175,000. Continental Airlines and its local affiliate, express jet, operating as Continental Express, had promised to let passengers off their jets within 3 hours if there was going to be an extended delay on the runway. Although the airlines felt this promise was not enforceable, the transportation department felt otherwise. The airlines are paying $50,000 each in civil penalties.
An airline by the name of Mesaba also agreed to pay $75,000 because one of its employees advised Continental Airlines that the passengers were not allowed in the terminal due to the fact the Transportation Security Administration wasn’t present.
The transportation department felt that Mesaba displayed “indifference to the passengers” and that was an unfair and deceptive practice. Mesaba has agreed to pay the fine.
The Continental Express passengers were kept on an airplane from 12:30 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. Ray LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation, stated “I hope this sends a signal to the rest of the airline industry that we expect their lines to respect the rights of air travelers. We will also use what we have learned from this investigation to strengthen protections for airline passengers subjected to long tarmac delays”.
The transportation department is requiring airlines to have contingency plans for long airport delays. If you are delayed on the tarmac in an airplane for more than three (3) hours, you may be able to collect damages for your being stranded on an airplane!
Picture courtesy of csmonitor.