Airlines Fined for Stranding Passengers


Flying has never been a perfectly smooth experience. But over the last couple years, we’ve had to deal with invasive security checks and steep price increases on basic amenities like checking baggage and even just reserving a seat.

All the while, consumers seem to be getting the short end of the stick. Ridiculous flight delays have become more common and flights still aren’t particularly safe.  (Read MainStreet’s previous coverage of terrifying airline secrets.)

However, travelers earned a nice victory last month in the battle to travel the skies hassle-free. Three airlines were held accountable for inconveniencing their passengers when they kept travelers on the runway for hours.

Continental, ExpressJet and Mesaba Airlines were fined a total of $175,000 by the federal government after the three airlines stranded dozens of passengers for close to six hours in Rochester, Minn.

Upon landing, passengers were told they could not enter the terminal because “there were no Transportation Security Administration screeners on duty.” Yet, as it turns out, there are no guidelines in the books restricting passengers for this reason. So they waited six hours for no good reason.

The U.S. Department of Transportation referred to this penalty as “precedent setting enforcement actions,” and we certainly hope it turns out to be the case, especially after horror stories earlier in the year that passengers were stranded for hours without being allowed to use the bathroom.

It may seem like a no brainer, but in the past year, more than 1,000 domestic flights have been stranded on the tarmac for three hours or longer, and little has been done to compensate those on board, beyond the occasional free meal.

Now, at long last, we may be seeing the light at the end of the tarmac.


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