United Airlines has been fined a record $1.1 million for keeping passengers stranded on the tarmac at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in 2012.
The Department of Transportation announced the penalty Friday. It is the largest fine since a new rule in 2010 required domestic planes with 30 or more passengers seats to allow passengers to disembark if tarmac delays exceed three hours.
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The Chicago airport delays lasted between three hours and two minutes to four hours and seventeen minutes.
"It is unacceptable for passengers to be stranded in planes on the tarmac for hours on end," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement, CNN reported
Passengers on 13 United flights were stuck on their planes for more than three hours during one stormy day on July 13, 2012. During some of that delay, passengers were not allowed to use the bathrooms.
Still, the fine is less than half the maximum possible penalty, the Chicago Tribune reported
. Under the rule, airlines can be fined up to $27,500 per passenger. There were 939 passengers on the 13 flights, with a potential maximum fine of $2.6 million, the newspaper reported.
The $1.1 million fine includes $475,000 United will pay the Treasury, $185,000 to affected travelers and $485,000 toward a tracking system for grounded planes at O'Hare, the Chicago Tribune said.
United said in a statement that it is “committed to complying with the tarmac delay regulations and we continue to improve our procedures while maintaining the safety of our customers and co-workers.”
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