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United Fined $2.75m for Violations of Consumer Protection Rules

Passengers and disabled person in the interior of the airport

United Airlines faces millions in fines from the Department of Transportation for alleged rule violations.

United Airlines is facing $2.75 million in fines levied by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for alleged violations of two major consumer protection rules. In a press release, the DOT announced the fines for breaking rules over travelers with disabilities and tarmac delay rules.

The fines stem from multiple complaints issued by disabled travelers against the legacy carrier in 2014. After reviewing the complaints, investigators concluded the airline did not do enough to provide accommodations at five of their hub airports, including Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). According to the DOT, United did not “provide passengers with disabilities prompt and adequate assistance with enplaning and deplaning aircraft and with moving through the terminal” at the airports.

“It is our duty to ensure that travelers with disabilities have access to the services they need, and that when significant tarmac delays happen, travelers are not left on the plane,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the press release. “We will make sure that airlines comply with our rules and treat their passengers fairly.”

In addition, the DOT claims United allowed six flights to sit on the tarmac longer than allowed under the rules. Five of the extended delays took place at ORD, while a sixth incident happened after a flight was diverted to Houston Hobby Airport (HOU).

Some of the fines levied against United will go towards technological efforts to assist disabled passengers, including adding the ability to request assistance through the airline’s mobile application, as well as monitoring ground service vendors contracted to provide wheelchairs and assistance to disabled flyers. United will receive $650,000 in credits for settlements to disabled flyers, while the remaining $750,000 will be levied for the tarmac delays.

The fines come as flyer faith in the tarmac delay rule is at an all-time low. A recent study suggests the rule has made domestic travel even more difficult.

[Photo: Getty Images]

Comments are Closed.
KRSW January 12, 2016

$2.5M? Smisek was got paid $12M in 2014, his golden parachute works out to ~$9M. I don't think $2.5M is going to make a hill of beans difference.

FlyingWithers January 9, 2016

Yet another reason not to fly UA. I have s strict policy of not doing business with companies that cheat customers. That applies to airlines, banks, credit card companies, etc. The only way to stop company cheating is to stop doing business with them. If something can't go on forever, it will stop: Economist Herbert Stein

Ronlap January 8, 2016

My mom and her caregiver flew SFO-ORD-SFO. Her caregiver had to leave her sitting in the lobby while she ran around trying to find a wheelchair - even though my mom had one listed in her PNR. The agent was apologetic, but that doesn't help.