Continental, ExpressJet Fined $100,000 For Tarmac Delay Incident

Back in August, Continental and its partner, ExpressJet kept 47 passengers, including some babies, on a plane for 11 hours with only some pretzels to eat. A few days later, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that he was looking in to the issue. Last week, the DOT announced that the Aviation Enforcement Office (AEO) had fined Continental Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines $100,000 for their involvement in the incident.

In addition to the fines to those airlines, the AEO also fined Mesaba Airlines $75,000. Mesaba provided ground handling for the flight.

Passengers will also be given a full refund as well as “additional compensation to materially acknowledge their discomfort.” Mr. LaHood did not elaborate on what that compensation might be, but he did sound a little ticked off at the airlines involved.

LaHood writes:

Look, this is just no way to treat passengers, customers, or anyone. You can’t strand people overnight without access to the basics. It’s not right; it’s against the rules; and I am proud of the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office for its investigation into the complaints of these travelers and for its responsiveness.

The Dallas Morning News has the airlines’ responses.

Here’s Continental’s:

“Continental agreed to the Department of Transportation’s (DOT)’s consent order to avoid costly litigation. As found by the DOT in its investigation, our regional carrier, ExpressJet, worked throughout the night to safely deplane the customers at the earliest possible time yet was unable to do so because the ground handler failed to provide reasonable assistance and accurate information. Accordingly, the fines to Continental and ExpressJet were less than the fine to Delta Connection.

“Continental takes responsibility for the care of its customers, whether they are on our regional partners’ flights or our own. We continue to work with our regional partners and ground handling agents to reinforce our Customer First commitments and ensure these types of situations are handled safely in a manner that is consistent with these commitments in the future.”

Aviation Enforcement Office sets precedent with Flight 2816 tarmac-delay fines [DOT Blog]
What others had to say in DOT fine case [Dallas Morning News]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.