United Airlines fined $1.1M for tarmac delays

CHICAGO — United Airlines will pay more than $1 million in fines for stranding passengers on 13 planes for more than three hours on the tarmac during a stormy day last year at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, federal officials announced Friday.

The $1.1 million fine is the largest levied against an airline since 2010, when new rules took effect that bar airlines from stranding passengers on the tarmac for longer than three hours without giving them the opportunity to leave the plane, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The delays involved 13 United and United Express planes on July 13, 2012, a day when severe thunderstorms and lightning had caused several ramp closures and disrupted the movement of aircraft at O’Hare, the nation’s second largest airport. Toilets weren’t working on two of those planes.

“It is unacceptable for passengers to be stranded in planes on the tarmac for hours on end,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “We will continue to require airlines to adopt workable plans to protect passengers from lengthy tarmac delays and carry out these plans when necessary.”

The airline exceeded the three-hour limit by as much as an hour and 17 minutes, and didn’t contact airport personnel or other airlines for help, according to the department.

United spokeswoman Mary Ryan said the airline was “committed to complying with the tarmac regulations and we continue to improve or procedures while maintaining the safety of our customers and co-workers.”

United will pay the government $475,000, while $185,000 will be used to compensate affected passengers, including those who were delayed on the tarmac for less than three hours. The airline will also use $440,000 to acquire and maintain a surveillance system to monitor the location of each of its planes on the airfield.

———

Associated Press writer Joan Lowy contributed to this story from Washington, D.C.

More in Local News

Snohomish man, 63, missing from home since Monday

He left without his keys, wallet and phone, saying something about going to “the river.”

Firefighters come to the rescue and give mom new stroller

Donations to the Good Neighbor Program covered the $143.20 cost.

Case unresolved: The noose at an Edmonds construction site

Though two were fired over comments about it, police were unable to determine who put it there.

To get drug money, Lynnwood man says he cut 911 wires

Those wires happened to be the ones used by 911 dispatchers, but emergency services weren’t affected.

February trial set for suspect in deadly Marysville shooting

There had been questions about Wayne Alpert’s mental health.

Fatal car crash reported on Highway 92 near Lake Stevens

The 3 p.m. accident and investigation stopped traffic in both directions near Machias Road.

Motorcyclist killed in crash had high level of THC

A motorcyclist had more than eight times the legal limit… Continue reading

Front Porch

EVENTS Teen Night at the Schack The next free Teen Night is… Continue reading

Police: Driver threatens pedestrian, ends up in drug bust

Meth, cocaine and heroin were found in his car, along with a loaded pistol and cash, police say.

Most Read