Who really benefits when airlines are penalized?

Although the U.S. Department of Transportation fined seven airlines a total of $1.7 million last year for violating its controversial tarmac-delay rule, most of it went straight to the U.S. Treasury. Why isn’t the money awarded to the passengers who sat on planes for hours before taking off?

That’s a question passengers like Christy Wood often ask me. Although she’s never been stuck on a parked plane, it surprised her to learn airlines face civil penalties of up to $27,500 per passenger for each violation. That’s a tidy sum that could help make a planeload of passengers a little happier.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America. Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

“I don’t understand why the government gets to collect that money,” says Wood, who works for the state of Oregon. “We, the passengers, are the ones suffering — why shouldn’t the airline pay that $27,500 to each passenger on that flight?”

The tarmac-delay rules set time limits for domestic and international flights waiting for clearance to take off. Carriers have to provide adequate food and water after two hours, as well as working lavatories and any medical treatment necessary. The airline industry argued that the rules, adopted in 2009 and 2011, would encourage airlines to cancel flights, but so far there’s little evidence the regulations have triggered the widespread cancellations predicted by the industry.

Wood’s question is a charged one for inconvenienced passengers. When something goes wrong, why aren’t travelers the beneficiaries of the money collected?

The answer is fascinating and, at the same time, frustrating. Since the tarmac-delay regulations became effective, the DOT has issued cease-and-desist orders assessing civil penalties in 15 cases involving 43 flights for violations of the tarmac-delay rule. Total civil penalties so far: $3,550,000.

That averages $82,558 per flight. Assuming each flight had 200 passengers, that works out to $412 per passenger — far from the maximum the DOT could fine, but not a bad way to say “I’m sorry.”

Advocates say that no matter who gets the money, the punishment is not much of a deterrent.

“The fines are merely a slap on the wrist to airlines and are often negotiated down significantly,” says Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, which advocates for frequent air travelers and their employers. “Now that the airline industry has consolidated through mergers to three mega-network airlines, disregard for consumers’ interests will likely only increase.”

Kendall Creighton, a spokeswoman for FlyersRights, one of the groups that pushed for the creation of the new tarmac-delay laws, says the problem is simple. “The government is too close with the airlines and too close with the airports,” she says. “DOT is adverse to cracking down on the industry and paying out to the affected passengers.”

The law requires the money collected from the airlines to be paid to the U.S. Treasury. There is nothing in the regulation that allows payment of civil penalties to go to affected consumers. But that doesn’t necessarily mean consumers are left uncompensated.

“In many of its consent orders for violations of the tarmac-delay rule, the Department’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings negotiates settlements for violations of the tarmac-delay rule with airlines where some compensation is provided directly to affected consumers,” says DOT spokeswoman Caitlin Harvey.

In 2011, American Eagle Airlines, now called Envoy Air, was fined $900,000 for forcing passengers to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without the opportunity to deplane. After that, regulators cut a deal with the carrier. They offered American Eagle a $250,000 credit for refunds, vouchers and frequent-flier miles for passengers on the affected flights.

In 2012, the DOT fined JetBlue Airways $90,000 for failing to adequately notify passengers they had the opportunity to deplane an aircraft that was at the gate for a lengthy period with the door open. Of that amount, regulators credited JetBlue $25,000 for travel vouchers provided to passengers on the affected flight.

The largest tarmac-delay fine to date, $1.1 million against United Airlines, also ended in a settlement. Last year, the airline was fined for forcing passengers to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without the opportunity to deplane and didn’t make sure lavatories were working for the duration of the lengthy tarmac delay. The DOT credited United $185,000 of that amount to the carrier for refunds, vouchers, and frequent-flier miles issued to passengers.

How about other airline fines? There, too, regulators have figured out a way to defer some of the compensation to affected passengers.

For example, in May 2013, the DOT fined Southwest Airlines $150,000 for failing to provide a timely written response to a disability-related complaint, as well as some general questions from passengers. The agency credited Southwest $115,000 for “monetary compensation” given straight to affected passengers.

And finally, last November, the DOT fined US Airways $1.2 million for failing to adequately help passengers with disabilities move within the terminal. It credited the airline $35,000 for vouchers provided to passengers in Philadelphia and Charlotte.

Is it enough? Maybe, maybe not.

Regulations affecting tarmac delays and accommodating passengers with disabilities don’t require the airlines to compensate passengers directly. Other rules, notably those for denied boarding, force an airline to pay passengers when they’re in violation.

“The tarmac delay regulation would be stronger if the DOT-negotiated settlements actually benefited the people adversely impacted by the delay: the passengers,” says Brandon Macsata, the executive director of the Association for Airline Passenger Rights. “The inability of the regulation to directly compensate airline passengers for actions or grievances by the airlines is actually consistent with other aviation-related laws, unfortunately.”

For example, the Air Carrier Access Act, passed in 1986, mandates that the airlines make air travel accessible for passengers with disabilities.

“Yet, when violations occur — and there are some pretty bad examples of passengers with disabilities being denied boarding or mistreated — the passengers have no legal recourse against the airlines,” he says.

If the DOT wanted to close this regulatory loophole, it could do so by requiring airlines to compensate passengers directly. Knowing that their reward is a voucher or a check might also make passengers more vigilant about reporting violations of the tarmac-delay rule, or any other government regulation. FlyersRights is pushing for a new Passenger Bill of Rights that gives half the fines for tarmac confinements to affected passengers. It also sets minimum fines for such delays.

In the end, advocates say, laws need to be tightened so that passengers can sue an airline to recover damages. That’s something they can’t always do because of a doctrine called federal preemption, which gives the airlines immunity from some lawsuits.

“Think of how appeased their passengers would be,” adds Wood, who says travelers are entitled to the money more than the airline’s shareholders — more, even, than the U.S. Treasury.

Should passengers get the money when an airline is punished by the government?

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60 thoughts on “Who really benefits when airlines are penalized?

  1. To speak intelligently on the subject, we need to understand fines. In general, civil and criminal fines go directly to the government. There are times when fines are used to create a fund for victims, but that is the exception, not the rule. The airline fines are in line with generally accepted government practices.

    The purpose of fines are to 1)punish the wrongdoer, 2)deter others from similar behavior and 3)indirectly provide funds by which the government can establish and maintain the infrastructure, e.g. law enforcement.

    For example, if a speeder hits your car, you don’t see a penny of the fine for the traffic ticket. In fact, you, the victim, have no say in whether he gets a ticket, what he’s ticketed for, and the consequences of receiving a ticket.

    And rightfully so. In the criminal courts and certain administrative forums, the purpose is not to vindicate the victims rights, but rather make societal determinations. Those are often at odds with the victim interests.

    In the civil courts, it’s all about you, the victim. No other considerations are present. Thus, that’s the venue where victims needs the right to sue.

    1. I feel I should also point out that giving flyers miles for being stuck on a plane is essentially giving them nothing, since the miles don’t actually belong to the passenger. The airline can come back later and quietly vacuum up those miles for some trumped-up reason.

      1. Very true, miles are nothing. There’s a guy on flyer talk who likes to see how trivial a complaint he can make and how many miles it’s worth.

      1. I can’t speak to the legal framework under which European laws operate. To speak intelligently, we would have to go through the same analysis as with the US law, i.e. is EC261 an outlier or normative?

        1. Can’t answer because I have no idea. But note US laws require compensation for bumped pax and lost baggage. So, some of our own laws are good for consumers.
          The tarmac one is quite ridiculous. There is no compensation required to the victim who suffered long hours stuck inside a can and who will likely not get to his destination on time. It is a pure money grab by the government.

          1. We have tons of consumer protection laws. For example, I’m a big fan of mandatory disclosure unlike some of my fellow free market posters.

          2. Back to the topic :-), you know many of the fines the DOT imposes are under their ability to penalize airlines under false and deceptive advertising rules. The tarmac delay fine is a special one made by Congress because Congress thinks tarmac delay is a devilish behavior by airlines that deserves punishment. Unfortunately it is a lot more complex than that.

            I was once in tarmac delayed flight a looong time ago. It was SJC/SFO (can’t remember exactly)-DFW-MEM on American. A snow storm hit Dallas. The plane was stuck right out of the gate (with doors closed). It must have been something like 6 or more hours before we moved out of there. (I got to MEM in the morning instead of at night).

            All I could do is watch the deicer equipment being moved from one airplane to another and how the deicer had to come back as the delays kept piling.

            While the immediate reaction is get me out of this stinking plane (don’t imprison me), calmer thinking makes me ask about where I will stay in DFW at 1AM in the morning? Then what happens to me the next day? Can I get a flight home or not?

            In reality it is a choice between lousy and lousier.

            I would prefer that the government just butt out of this huge fine thing. I can understand a law giving passengers the right to bail out the flight after 3 or more hours waiting in the tarmac but then the current law falls short on what to do to help the stranded passengers. Typical politics.

        2. Let’s ask PsyGuy, I’m sure he will tell us all about that and how the Japanese legal system will fix all of our problems :-p

          Just suprised he hasn’t chimed in yet!

          I am still not convinced he is not Chris’s alter ego…

          1. Reading Chris cases, I have the impression that in Brazil I have more protection than you guys in some aspects. Maybe because we are heavily regulated, and Brazilian legislation presumes the consumer is always hypo-sufficient and the weak part of the transaction, therefore the consumer must always be protected, even when the consumer isn’t exactly right.

            In other hands, our judicial system is very, very slow. It can take ages to end a case. A typical labor case (let’s say, about some extra hours and vacation unpaid) can last about 8 years in order to end, with all appeals.

            And no, I don’t know how the Brazilian system can fix the American one… 😉

          2. I’m dealing with the Brazil legal system right now on a corporate transaction that I am representing an Asian client. Local Brazil counsel made the same statements about the judicial system and in particular labor cases.

          3. I guess he can’t since I don’t think Japan has a law like EC261 or our US Passenger Protection laws.
            My feeling is customer service there is just part of their culture. No need for more laws.
            My sister and her friends were caught in the freak snow storm in Tokyo.
            There were stuck in another island in a city named Hakodate (Hokkaido Island).
            All the flights to Tokyo were cancelled, so there was no way to get to Tokyo and take the flight out of Japan.
            They took the fast train to Tokyo and went to Narita.
            The airport looked like a war zone with cots everywhere. By the afternoon, all of them were accommodated to their respective destinations. No questions asked, just given the next flight out.

            By contrast, compare that to what US Airways did to my sister in law who visited us in Connecticut.
            We drove her back and forth White Plains (HPN) airport for 3 straight days just so she can fly back to Sacramento (SMF).
            Not sure why that airline is still alive 🙂

          4. Japan doesn’t have a specific law that you’d say is EC261. In Japan they would just see any interruption of their scheduled service as “failure” and would fix it with lots of apologies and bowing, it would be shameful to just abandon passengers and not accommodate them on available flights. Very little happens in Japan, the news is practically a 30 minute talk show for kindergardeners. Nothing bad really happens, the weather is the most exciting part, so something like “Airline abandons passengers on runway for 3 hours” would be the story of the day, week, and month. No one would want that kind of shame directed at them or even proximity to them.
            The other issue is that Narrita doesn’t have the capacity to tie up a runway for 3 hours with nothing happening on it. They also have the traffic, that if this problem happened (and it has) they would deplane the passengers, cancel the flight, get the plane out of the way and rebook everyone, which wouldn’t take long.

            Japans legal system is far less “convoluted” than the American system or the EU system. It’s one country, one law, and the consumer protection rights are pretty strong, such that the remedies available are more than sufficient for arbitrating this type of claim, without needing a more specific legal code or system to address “passenger rights”. If such a claim was made it would be VERY quickly settled.

    2. As usual Carver makes the best argument.

      The passengers getting the money seems like a great idea, but the fine should go to the agency that creates the system that attempts to keep the airlines on time. Theoretically it would be less money the taxpayers would pay to fund such agency, but our corrupt leaders in Washington can think of other ways to waste our money.

    3. if a speeder hits your car, you don’t see a penny of the fine for the traffic ticket

      Well yes & no… If the traffic ticket shows the speeder is at fault, the victim absolutely benefits from the action when it comes to insurance costs, which probably outweigh the amount of the fine for the ticket. Also the vast majority of traffic tickets are not associated with accident victims.

      Do you have examples where the direct victims are always readily identifiable and few in number, and yet derive no benefit from the enforcement action?

      With unsafe products and product recalls, the customers (if they are reachable) are generally made whole when their products are fixed.

      Chris mentioned involuntary denied boarding, where the fine goes straight to the victim.

      The fact that DOT is negotiating all the voucher payouts Chris cited suggests that they recognize that the passengers deserve something when their passenger rights are violated. But apparently DOT doesn’t have the authority to carry this out consistently and systematically, and so they do it on an ad hoc basis.

      1. Respectfully, your entire post is incorrect for multiple reasons:

        1. The article is talking about money, not benefit. Benefit is warm and fuzzy as many people may receive some benefit who are not associated with the initial wrongdoing.Ideally all of society received a benefit when a wrongdoer is punished. So, I’m going to decline to permit you to redefine the question from money to benefit.

        2. In almost all government punitive actions, the victims are readily identifiable but receive no direct monetary compensation from the government regulatory actions. These would include FTC fines, SEC fines, licensing board fines (lawyers, doctors, accountants, plumbers, etc), OSHA violations, traffic tickets, civil rights violation, criminal fines, ad infinitum. I’d run out of space trying to list them all. I’d be happy to give specific examples if need be.

        3. Generally, if the victim wants monetary compensation, the victim will need to hire an attorney to pursue civil remedies. And, even in those cases in which a victims compensation fund is available to obviate the need to retain counsel, payments from that fund are independent of the ultimate punitive action(s) taken by the licensing agency. One notable exception is that criminal courts may order restitution which is independent of any fines and will be listed separately.

        With unsafe products and product recalls, the customers (if they are
        reachable) are generally made whole when their products are fixed.

        Again, this is independent of any a government fines. And benefits future, non-victim, purchasers as well.

        Chris mentioned involuntary denied boarding, where the fine goes straight to the victim

        Under federal law 14 CFR 250.5 it’s not a fine it’s compensation. Fundamentally different as a fine based upon the wrongdoer’s actions, whereas compensation is based upon the wronged person’s losses. For example, fines carry moral stigma, compensation, not necessarily.

        1. The article is talking about money, not benefit.

          Respectfully, the title of the article is:
          “Who really benefits when airlines are penalized?”

          In this particular case, it’s hard to think of a means to benefit the directly impacted passengers that wouldn’t involve either money or credit towards future travel.

          Under federal law 14 CFR 250.5 it’s not a fine it’s compensation.

          Well is that a good or bad thing? As I read it, this article is asking whether we shouldn’t treat violations of passenger rights in a similar fashion.

          In fact, the DOT is already negotiating voucher payouts in many (but not all) of these circumstances. Are you opposed to that? Would you rather prefer that the passengers receive no such benefit unless they incur the time and up front cost of suing in civil court?

          If these payouts are sometimes already being negotiated and are already occurring, does it make sense to do it as systematically, consistently, and fairly as possible? Or is better to continue to do it on an ad-hoc basis?

          1. The title of the article may be benefits, but the article itself is about money, plain and simple. Specifically, why don’t the fines go to passengers. Clearly the only benefit involved is money.

            **Edited. Benefits is used as a verb, not as a noun in the title.

            We are in dangerous territory. The article lacks any sophistication regarding fines vs. compensation. Again, it’s about understanding the legal framework. First, compensation is not meant as a deterrent, it’s meant to make the victim whole, whereas fines are meant to punish and deter. Deviating from these maxims makes the regulatory scheme uncertain and subject to judicial challenge.

            Consider the up to 27.5k civil penalty per passenger. That number could not be justified as compensation as few passengers would reasonably be damaged in such an amount. As such, it would represent a windfall to the passengers, a judicial no-no.

            Plus, as I mentioned before, when an agency imposes a fine, it’s not acting as a free attorney to the victim. The societal interests and the victims interests are often diametrically opposed.

            Negotiating a payment voucher is not a fine. We can certainly discuss that, but that isn’t part of this question about whether fines should go to the victims and I’d rather not conflate unrelated issues as it muddies the discussion.

          2. I get this question about fines and airlines frequently. I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while. I tried to be fair and thorough and I consulted with several legal and government experts before I published it. I’m sorry you feel I didn’t succeed.

          3. It’s not a dig. I save those for loyalty programs articles. 😉

            The purpose of the article was not to have an in-depth discussion regarding fines vs. compensation. It would have been very difficult to do as shown by the exchange between MichaelK and myself.

          4. I thought it had just the right amount of sophistication given your general audience. Carver’s just smarter than the rest of us in legal matters.

          5. compensation is not meant as a deterrent, it’s meant to make the victim whole, whereas fines are meant to punish and deter.

            Exactly. And I read this article as pushing us to think critically as to why we’ve put some offenses (e.g. Involuntary Denied Boarding) exclusively in one category and other offenses (e.g. violations of passenger tarmac-delay rights) exclusively in the opposite category.

            It’s helpful that you’ve clarified the legal frameworks involved, but that doesn’t tell us whether we should change the status quo or whether things are perfect as they are.

            BTW, the $27.5k civil penalty per passenger is a maximum upper bound. According to the article, the average penalty is closer to about $400 per passenger. I don’t think Chris or anyone else has suggested that victims reap a windfall. Obviously any compensation directly to passengers should be commensurate with the degree of inconvenience.

            Negotiating a payment voucher is not a fine.

            Seems that Chris is reporting that carriers have negotiated their fines downward by offering payment vouchers to the victims. If so, in practice the two have already become intertwined, in spite of the legal framework.

            Isn’t that alone a reason to re-examine our approach and to ensure that any remedies applied for the benefit of passengers (and deducted from fines) are consistent and transparent and fair?

          6. A couple thoughts.

            1.. Though often quoted, averages are often an inappropriate means of presenting statistical date. The median is what we need to know. In this case, an average is near meaningless.

            2. I purposely avoided discussing whether things should change or not because we needed to understand the framework. Now that we are, I assume that the reason why IDB is paid directly to the customer is because that only affects the individual passenger. Tarmac delays affects scores of passengers and is a specific behavior that is to be deterred.

            I guess my question would be, what goal is accomplished by giving passengers part of the fine?

          7. 1) The median fine was $84,615 per flight
            The average fine was $82,558 per flight
            The minimum fine was $30,000 for a flight
            The maximum fine was $150,000 for a flight
            The most common fine for a distinct enforcement action was $90,000 per flight

            2) We know exactly who is affected by a tarmac delay. The passengers on the delayed flight.

            To repeat, in practice, there is (sometimes) already a compensation component because carriers are already negotiating down their fines by offering compensation. But this is happening on ad hoc basis. Not a systematic, transparent basis where we can verify fairness and consistency.

            Furthermore, the number of different flights and different airlines cited for violations, plus the experts Chris quotes in the article, strongly suggest that the fines have not been very effective even as a deterrent.

          8. For brevity (unusual for me but it’s late), I am going to sidestep the unimportant questions and get to the meat of this.

            As far as the effectiveness of fines, I don’t really see how the compensation vs. fines discussion addresses any points. What is the goal to be accomplished by giving compensation to passengers instead of fining airlines?

          9. We already covered that the goal of compensation is to benefit the passengers who were forced to endure through the lengthy and illegal tarmac delay or the disabled passengers who were illegally not accommodated.

            We already covered that the total penalties (fines + compensation) are supposed to be a deterrent. If it’s not actually a deterrent then perhaps the fine component needs some adjustment.

            Edit: If you don’t agree that at least some of these incidents cause suffering that is worthy of damages, however modest, then all these sequiturs about civil courts and medians vs. means are irrelevant distractions that avoid getting at the heart of your objection.

            If you do agree that damages are warranted for at least some of these incidents, then the question becomes what is accomplished by requiring 200 some-odd passengers to independently sue in civil court over the same incident? Especially when we already have an agency with domain expertise that judges the legality and severity of each incident? And at least in the case of tarmac delays, we know each and every passenger suffered through exactly the same delay.

          10. The median and the mean are both measures of central tendency, and often it’s the mean thats inappropriately used, since the number of lay individuals who understand what the median is far, far lower than those who know what the mean/average is. The mean is most appropriate when you have a normal or normal’ish distribution, the median is more appropriate when you have a skewed distribution, as its far more resilient to contamination by outliers.

          11. If you have a normal (Gaussian) or normalish distribution, the mean and median should be similar, yes?

          12. As long as you qualify and except “similar” and “normal’ish” than yes. In a perfect normal (Gaussian) distribution model, the mean, median, and mode are the same (it’s actually the machine definition, in that x is both the arithmetic average, the point of bisecting the distribution, and the measurement with the highest frequency). The problem however occurs, in that rarely does a distribution curve perfectly fit the model.
            All models are wrong, the fundamental question of statistical analysis becomes; what is your tolerance for error?
            So if similar and normal’ish are acceptable to you and for your degree of utility then, cool beans.

        2. Don’t forget the natural consequence of this law passed by Congress.
          Because the fines are draconian, airline simply pro-actively cancel lots of flights during snowy weather.
          Who gets the shaft? Of course the small guy – the passenger.
          Instead of risking to be stuck on a tarmac, you are now stuck in a snow covered sidewalk while you find another hotel to stay in. Who knows how long you will be stuck in that place since your flight got cancelled and the airline can’t get you seat for tomorrow. Because the airline has no duty to care, you are on you own.

          Europe has it right on this one.

          1. At whose expense? In the EU at the airlines expense because the Law says so (Duty to Care).
            They will (or are trying to) limit that to a maximum of 3 days. But the new change to the law will require the airlines to endorse you to another carrier also.
            Again, the Europeans got this one right. Why not copy the parts of EC261 that work?

          2. Depends on the airplane and the hotel. Some of those first class en’suites are far better then a couple of hostels and motels I’ve stayed in.

        3. You don’t need to hire an attorney. Compensation at this level could easily be resolved in small claims court, or even mandated dispute resolution.

    4. I think you are correct in that there are a number of situations, not just in aviation, in which individuals or business entities are denied a private right of action, and all that is left is the discretion of the administrative agency (which discretion might not always be exercised outside the political sphere). At least in some, but nowhere near all, circumstances administrative agencies might be permitted to grant right-to-sue letters to adversely-affected persons if those agencies, themselves, will not act.

    1. I don’t see it as that much of a deterrent. It would be like giving an individual a $5 speeding ticket. Here’s the $5, thank you very much, and off I go to do it again. Only when it really, truly hurts will it be an effective deterrent.

      Plus, most of us don’t know about when an airline is penalized. It would be more publicized if individuals got checks for their troubles, and a lot more people would know. Thus perhaps a little more embarrassment for the airline, and more of an incentive to try not to do that again. Perhaps anyway…

      1. Except it doesn’t hurt the executives or the share holders. Its passengers paying other passengers. Those fines just get passed on too passengers.

  2. Let the fine automatically advance socially beneficial actions by the airlines.

    Let the fine be diminished dollar for dollar for direct monetary no-strings compensation to affected passengers. Let there be a 2 for one credit if the money is paid or guaranteed on the same day as the offense, which is well ahead of any fine being assessed or even contemplated. Let vouchers be counted as less than one for one as they require a future purchase. And frequent flier miles awarded as less than, say, a million miles per passenger should not count.

    Then the airlines will realize that prompt fair compensation is in their interest and will act like it.

  3. This could be treated like a class action settlement. The consumers get the net amount after govt. admin and the cost to notify and distribute to the class. The consumer would still get a nice makegood.

  4. I don’t believe passengers should get the full amount, but I could see something along the lines of $100 per hour per person. The remainder of the money should go to paying expenses for the program and making improvements to airport security or some other cause that benefits the flying public as a whole,

  5. I say it should really be spent on pizza and beer and if that is not enough, airport hotel and meal expenses for REAL victims.
    Additional vouchers would be nice, too. But the most important thing is to minimize eventual DELAY since we wanna get home.
    wjla. com/articles/2014/07/airline-pilot-orders-pizza-for-passengers-stuck-on-tarmac-104919.html

  6. To avoid a bookkeeping nightmare, every passenger on the affected plane should receive a voucher for $400 immediately by the airline. The list of what events trigger these vouchers should be published and non-negotiable. And, yes, the voucher should be good for a flight in any class, anywhere, anytime, no restrictions. Then the government and airline lawyers can go about their business determining fines … no doubt years down the road … and the passengers would be compensated in real time for their misery.

    1. Yes, I agree. No money to the government since they did not do anything to solve the problem. The plane is still stuck in the tarmac. Pay the suffering passengers.

      1. That’s not true the government provided enforcement and oversight. Knowing there is someone on over watch is in itself a deterrent, but that deterrent isn’t free.

        1. The govt does not need the money. They can always print it.
          In fact you can argue that the airline will pass on the fine to us in terms of higher fares and fees.
          The fines are there to punish airlines. I agree to punish cheating and lying. I don’t agree punishing those having operational problems in a snow storm. I feel that too many proactice cancellations are quite bad.

          1. Printing money creates paper not worth. Of course they will pass on the fine as higher costs and fees, this is why I wrote it was a deterrent. Airlines will do what is in their best interests, fines provide alternative interests when compared to nothing.

  7. I had to vote ‘no’ solely because of the government’s revenue problems. Right now the Treasury needs those monies, small though they are by Federal standards.

  8. This is how Russians deal with a tarmac delay.

    WATCH Video: Passengers Push Frozen Plane Down Runway in Russia
    accuweather. com/en/features/trend/watch_passengers_push_frozen_p/38016703

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