In April 2010, we put a three-hour tarmac delay rule in place to protect airline passengers. And more than a year later, as we head into the holiday travel season, I'm happy to report that the rule is working to keep extended tarmac delays at a minimum.
In the year before the rule went into effect, airlines reported 693 tarmac delays of more than three hours, and 105 of the delays were longer than four hours. But in the 12 months after the rule was enacted, there were only 20 reported tarmac delays of more than three hours, none of which was more than four hours long.
However, these delays do still occur, and when they do, we take any violation seriously.
That's why we're announcing today the first fine for a violation of this important passenger protection. DOT has fined American Eagle $900,000 in civil penalties and has ordered the air carrier to cease and desist from future violations of the tarmac delay rule.
A total of $650,000 must be paid within 30 days, and up to $250,000 can be credited for refunds, vouchers, and frequent flyer mile awards to the passengers on the 15 flights, as well as to passengers on future flights that experience lengthy tarmac delays of less than three hours.
I've said before that we think airline passengers deserve to be treated fairly--before, during, and after their flights. The tarmac delay rule and vigilant enforcement by DOT are critical steps toward ensuring they are.
The rule is working; passengers are being protected. I hope that can be one less source of stress for air travelers this holiday season.
For tips on travel ease and safety this holiday season, please check back later this week on the Fast Lane.