American Airlines Hit With $4 Million In Fines Over Stranded Passengers


The U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) has hit American Airlines (AAL) with a $4 million fine for incidents involving keeping passengers waiting in its aircraft for three hours or more. The fine is the highest assessed to a domestic airline for violations of the relevant regulations. Three hours is the maximum time allowable under DoT rules for passengers to be kept waiting while onboard an aircraft before takeoff. According to a DoT investigation report, American “kept dozens of flights stuck on the tarmac for long periods of time without letting passengers off.”

According to the agency’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection, it reviewed delays registered between 2018 and 2021. In that time frame, American was responsible for “43 domestic flights [remaining] on the tarmac for lengthy periods without providing passengers an opportunity to deplane.” Officials added that the stranded passengers were not offered food or water during the delays, most of which occurred at AAL’s central hub at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. A total of 5,821 passengers were affected, according to the DoT.

American spokesperson Sarah Jantz blamed the delays on “exceptional weather events.” She said the affected flights were just a small percentage of “the 7.7 million flights during this time period,” adding, “We have since apologized to the impacted customers and regret any inconvenience caused.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. It would be interesting to see the effects of a bunch of heavies sitting on a regular basis for up to 3 hours in DFW’s midday sun if, as the DoT asserts, the paved surface was indeed tarmac.

  2. A loved one recently spent a very uncomfortable 45 minutes in a roasting plane at DFW. They pushed back with no working APU. No Start cart. Then delayed start cart didn’t work. Tugged back to gate. No one bring out the airbridge. Finally allowed to deplane. Temps over 100 inside. Note to AA: whatever the MEL says, No APU in Dallas in the summer, no pushback with pax.

  3. Is it just me, or is virtually every trip to DFW some kind of weather event?

    I swear I’ve had better service from AA than United over the years, but I now avoid DFW like the plague. Love and Addison seem fine, but DFW seems cursed.

    • The exception at DFW, based on my 30 years of flying through there (as a passenger), is CAVU.

      I’m happy to agree there is Carbon build up. I refuse to believe much else on the subject from people whose policy solutions have more to do with Marxism than science. The last one I heard had something about 3 new articles of clothing per person per year!?!? Really?

      Also, anyone still refusing to put nuclear in the solution should be sat in the room with the flat earthers and told to debate all they like.