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Airlines Fined for Making Passengers Uncomfortable During Tarmac Delays

Airlines Fined for Making Passengers Uncomfortable During Tarmac Delays
Jeff Edwards

Budget airline Allegiant Air earned a hefty fine from the U.S. Department of Transportation for being stingy with the air-conditioning during lengthy tarmac delays. The ultra-low-cost-carrier was ordered to pay a quarter-of-a-million-dollar penalty for ten incidents at several airports in which regulators say the airline “did not provide passengers a comfortable cabin temperature.”

Being stuck on in a plane while sitting on the ramp is among the most frustrating air travel experiences that a passenger will ever face, but being stuck in an economy class seat during a lengthy tarmac delay in sweltering temperatures can be downright tortuous. This week the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) sent a message to Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air that flyers deserve better.

The DOT hit the ultra-low-cost-carrier with a $250,000 fine after regulators say the airline failed to provide basic comforts, including appropriate climate control and water for passengers on delayed flights sitting on the ground. The penalty was issued over ten separate incidents at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) and a handful of other airports across the country.

“Allegiant did not provide passengers a comfortable cabin temperature on several delayed flights at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and certain other U.S. airports between June and September of 2016 and 2017,” DOT officials said in a statement announcing the enforcement action.  “In one of these instances, Allegiant did not provide food and water to passengers in a timely manner or make certain announcements as required.”

The DOT assessed the substantial penalty as part of a cease and desist order warning the ULCC not to continue the practice of leaving passengers to sweat-out ground delays. According to the agency, Allegiant failed to adhere to its own tarmac delay contingency plan, in violation of federal regulations.

Earlier this year British Airways was also fined $225,000 for failing to allow passengers to disembark during a lengthy tarmac delay. In June, Iceland Air was assessed a $40,000 penalty by the DOT for failing “to provide adequate food on a departing flight no later than two hours after the aircraft leaves the gate.”

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