Today, DOT issued the first-ever enforcement orders against an airline for stranding passengers for an unreasonable amount of time.
I hope this sends a signal to the rest of the airline industry that we expect airlines to respect the rights of air travelers.
The Aviation Enforcement Office (AEO) fined Continental Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines $100,000 for their roles in keeping passengers on board Continental Express flight 2816 overnight at Rochester International Airport on August 8, 2009. Continental will also provide a full refund to each passenger and also offer passengers additional compensation to materially acknowledge their discomfort.
We also fined Mesaba Airlines $75,000. Mesaba provided ground handling for the flight.
Look, this is just no way to treat passengers, customers, or anyone. You can't strand people overnight without access to the basics. It's not right; it's against the rules; and I am proud of the Department's Aviation Enforcement Office for its investigation into the complaints of these travelers and for its responsiveness.
And I know we will use what we have learned from this investigation to strengthen protections for airline passengers subjected to long tarmac delays down the line.