The government announced Friday that United Airlines Holdings Inc. must pay $1.9 million in fines for stranding passengers on the tarmac for long periods of time.
From 2015 to last February, United kept more than 3,200 passengers onboard for at least three hours on 20 domestic flights and five international flights, according to a release from the Department of Transportation.
The fine was the largest ever for tarmac delay violations, according to the department.
United said in an email that it “remains committed to fully complying with all DOT rules” and that it “will continue to identify and implement improvements in how we manage difficult operating conditions while maintaining the safety of our customers and employees.”
In 2016, an international flight bound for Houston was diverted to New Orleans, resulting in a five-hour delay. Passengers were only allowed to disembark after the pilots had worked past their legal working hours and had to be replaced by another crew.
If a plane on a domestic flight sits on the ground for at least three hours — four hours for international flights — federal rules require airlines to give passengers a chance to return to the terminal. For reasons of safety, security, or air traffic control, exceptions are permitted.
According to the agency, airlines reported 40 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights in July of this year.
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