American Airlines fined $4.1 million for lengthy flight delays

August 28, 2023

The Department of Transportation announced Monday it has fined American Airlines $4.1 million for making passengers wait on the tarmac for hours at a time. 

According to a document outlining the deal, American agreed to pay $2.05 million and received an equal sum in credit for compensation already paid to passengers. 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the fine was part of the DOT’s push to uphold the rights of airline passengers.

“Whether the issue is extreme tarmac delays or problems getting refunds, DOT will continue to protect consumers and hold airlines accountable,” Buttigieg said in a statement announcing the fine.

According to the U.S. Airlines Passengers Bill of Rights, passengers must be provided compensation for delayed or cancelled flights.

Further, federal rules require airlines to allow passengers to disembark once a plane has been sitting on the tarmac more than three hours. The DOT said it identified 43 flights from 2018 to 2021 that broke this rule, affecting some 5,821 passengers. Most problems occurred at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, one of American’s hubs, and were connected to bad weather.

American Airlines is the second largest by capacity in the U.S., after United. American says it flies about 6,700 flights daily to more than 350 destinations around the world.

In a statement the airline said the delays in question affected a tiny percentage of its flights during the years the investigation covered. 

“We have since apologized to the impacted customers and regret any inconvenience caused,” said American Airlines.

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