FlyersRights.org Pushes to Write Tarmac Delay Fines into Law

The consumer group FlyersRights.org is pushing to have tarmac delay penalties written into federal aviation laws. The Transportation Department enacted a rule in April 2010 which places fines up to $27,500 per passenger for planes left on the tarmac for more than three hours for domestic flights and four hours for international. FlyersRights.org joined a House member on Monday in urging Congress to include the delay penalties in legislation that governs the Federal Aviation Administration.

Representative Mike Thompson (D-Calif) said the House and the Senate will likely negotiate the FAA bill on Tuesday. The Senate version includes the three-hour penalty but the House version does not. Representative Thompson and Kate Hanni of FlyersRights.org say its important to write the penalties into legislation so that the Department of Transportation can’t simply rescind the rules in the future. USA Today quoted Thompson who said, “It’s a lot more difficult to change law.”

The penalty was enforced for the first time in November against American Eagle for delays resulting from a May thunderstorm at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. The airline was fined $900,000. Lawmakers are aiming to complete the FAA bill by February 17, the latest of 23 extensions since work began on the legislation in 2007.