DOT Fines Asiana Airlines $500K For Failing To Help Passengers’ Families After July Crash

In the first fine of its kind, the U.S. Department of Transportation has penalized Asiana Airlines with a $500,000 fee for not helping family members of passengers on a flight that crashed last year at San Francisco Airport. Three people died and dozens more were injured when Asiana Flight 214 clipped a seawall during its landing.

No other airline has broken the 1996 Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act that says airlines must provide prompt and generous assistance to families of crash victims, reports the Associated Press.

The DOT’s investigation found that there were family members who hadn’t been contacted by Asiana two days after the crash, while it took five days total to reach the families of all 291 passengers. That’s no good, says the DOT, especially under such circumstances.

“The last thing families and passengers should have to worry about at such a stressful time is how to get information from their carrier,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a prepared statement.

And while news of the crash was all over the media here, for many families living back in South Korea or China, the airline likely would’ve been the main source of information they turned to.

The DOT also says that the airline didn’t do a great job of publicizing a toll-free number encouraging family members to get in touch and receive information about the victims, and lacked translators personnel trained in crash response.

An Airlines spokeswoman said in a statement that it did its best: “Asiana provided extensive support to the passengers and their families following the accident and will continue to do so.”

The airline has signed a consent order agreeing to pay $400,000 in a fine, while getting a $100,000 credit to cover “costs in sponsoring multiple industry-wide conferences and training sessions in 2013, 2014 and 2015, to provide lessons learned.”

Asiana Airlines Penalized Over Crash [Associated Press]