The previous record for violations had been $3.3 million for a total of 47 incidents in 2011. With the last two violations — one against Panama’s Copa Airlines and the other against Virgin America — the DOT issued 49 violations in 2012, resulting in around $3.6 million in fines.
The Chicago Tribune provides some details on the two New Year’s Eve violations. Copa Airlines was flagged after passengers were stranded on a plane at JFK International in NYC for five hours and 34 minutes. The DOT says passengers weren’t even offered food until after the four-hour mark had passed. The Tribune did not list the amount for this fine.
Meanwhile, Virgin America was slapped with a $55,000 fine after the DOT found out that passengers were stuck on a plane at O’Hare International in Chicago for more than two hours without being told they had the option to leave the plane.
Virgin America calls the Dec. 31 incident “isolated” and says it is taking the matter “seriously,” because that is the only way a company knows how to take an incident. “[W]e’ve used this opportunity to reconfirm our established notification policy for aircraft delays at the gate,” says the airline.