The US Department of Transportation (DOT) imposed fines on Virgin America and Panama-based Copa airlines in early 2013 for leaving passengers waiting on grounded aircraft at airports.
Virgin was fined $55,000 for not giving passengers the option to get off an aircraft after a delay of over 2 hours at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Copa was fined $150,000 for leaving passengers on a New York JFK flight sitting in the aircraft for over 5 hours without food and water.
DOT has adopted strict rules to try to make sure that airlines treat passengers properly in grounded aircraft.
Under the rules, airlines cannot leave passengers on-board aircraft at airports for more than 3 hours for domestic flights and 4 hours for international flights without an option to get off. Airlines are also required to provide snacks and water after 2 hours of waiting in grounded aircraft.