United Airlines fined $1.9 million over tarmac delays

United Airlines fined $1.9 million over tarmac delays
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The Department of Transportation (DOT) fined United Airlines $1.9 million for violating rules about how long passengers can be trapped on planes on the ground, DOT announced Friday.

Passengers need to be allowed to go back to the terminal if a plane is grounded for more than three hours on domestic flights and more than four hours on international flights.

DOT said long tarmac delays by United affected 3,218 passengers on 20 domestic and five international flights between December 2015 and February 2021.

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The longest delay was in 2016 on an international flight. Passengers had to sit on a grounded plane for more than five hours, according to the consent order. 

United Airlines has to pay $950,000 in 30 days with DOT giving the company $750,000 in credit for compensating passengers and $200,000 in credit to create a tool to avoid more grounded flights.

The company said in the consent order that most of the long delays were caused by severe weather.

“The safety of our customers and employees is always our first priority – particularly during 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 spokesperson for United Airlines said in a statement to The Hill.