AMR takes the cake... first airline fined for tarmac delays

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by viguera, Nov 14, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Dubious distinction indeed, but it seems American has become the first airline to be officially fined for tarmac delays, to the tune of $900k.

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/11/14/news/companies/american_eagle_fine/index.htm?iid=HP_LN&hpt=hp_t2

    I would have sworn Jetblue was going to win this, but alas it seems they were too slow. :)
     
  2. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Too fast in this case?
     
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  3. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    And now the OP has earned the dubious distinction of apparently not being able to differentiate between American Airlines and American Eagle :)
     
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  4. ceieoc

    ceieoc Silver Member

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    According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the government agency fined American Eagle, a subsidiary of American Airlines' AMR Corp., (AMR, Fortune 500) a a civil penalty of $650,000 for delays that occurred earlier this year at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
    The airline could have been fined $16.7 million if the case had been brought before an administrative law judge, and if the judge had sided with the passengers.
    But, under a settlement negotiated with the department, American Eagle was fined $900,000 -- $650,000 to be paid to within 30 days, and up to $250,000 which can be given in refunds, vouchers and frequent flyer mile awards to passengers on the flights, as well as passengers on future flights that experience lengthy tarmac delays of fewer than three hours, the department said.

    If American Eagle paid their $650,000 civil penalty using the Citi ExecutiveSM / AAdvantage® World EliteTM MasterCard®, they could get up to 52 free domestic one-way trips. Until December 1, 2011, using the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard also helps them achieve lifetime AAdvantage Gold Elite status with 650,000 Elite Qualifying Miles. Oh, I almost forgot, and a waived domestic baggage charge for the first eligible bag with every American Airlines or American Eagle flight.

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/indus...ican-Eagle-fined-for-tarmac-delays/51188972/1

    http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/American-Eagle-Hit-with-900K-Fine-133798648.html
     
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  5. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Not sure that I follow, considering that American Eagle is a subsidiary of American, and the parent company will end up eating the fine.

    Nevertheless, it's good to see someone getting fined for breaking the law, even if it's just somewhat of a slap on the wrist.
     
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  6. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    I'm not sure how I feel about the hard-and-fast 3 hour rule... I keep thinking about earlier in the year when I was on a flight from LGA that was delayed due to thunderstorms. We were something ridiculous like 25th in line to take off when I switched on channel 9, but then I heard a bunch pilots tell ground control that they had to turn back to the gate due to the three hour rule and we were suddenly 5th in line and we took off within 25 minutes (give or take). One of the planes that turned around was 3rd in line to take off! Imagine sitting on a plane waiting to take off for three hours, only to have to turn back to the gate just when its your turn to take off.
     
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  7. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    $900,000!!!? Gosh, when I was tardy in school, it was just an hour's detention. Or a few laps.
     
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  8. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    In 6th grade I had a teacher who would make you wear a toilet seat around your neck with the word TARDY painted on it. :D
     
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  9. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    Actually they could use their Hilton HHonors Amex card, for 1,950,000 Hilton points -- help offset the rooms they have to cough up next time those distressed passengers are brought back off the tarmac and into the terminal.
     
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  10. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Ah... the days when men were men and parents were allowed to throw stuff at you for acting up in public.

    Reminds me of a TV show I saw the other day when the kids were acting up and they were put on "the naughty circle" for "a time-out" -- I never had any of that. :)
     
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  11. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Interestingly I am from the generation most would consider a bit pampered and spoiled. I was in the DOD school system though, so perhaps the regulation was more relaxed.... ;)
     
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  12. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    Actually, in mentioning the detention or laps, I left out the p.e. coaches and their paddles. . . for fear of betraying what a truly ancient f@rt I am. Clearly, though, what teachers can do nowadays has changed dramatically from a few decades past. I think the kids would be better off if the pendulum would swing about halfway back.

    Now, back on topic and as to Eagle and its penalty, $900 k seems like a lot (though less than the millions and millions it could have been had AMR fought it and lost). It will be interesting to watch through the upcoming rough-weather winter months and see if "tarmac" complaints decrease after this make-an-example penalty is imposed. I would not expect the violations to drop all the way to zero, but hopefully the fine will have some effect. EDIT/CORRECTION: penalty $900k, not $950k that I said when I first posted this item.
     
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  13. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I think $950k is obviously something but it's certainly a slap on the wrist. If it was to be an example they would have gone all out and fined them the full amount, and definitely strike fear into the other carriers -- especially as you mention now that the funky weather is about to start.

    I'm on the fence as well about this whole thing... even though I was on the tarmac for about 4+ hours pre-rule on a DL flight, I can certainly say that I appreciated when we finally did get airborne. I wouldn't say that I was happy about the wait (although the compensation was appropriate) but I don't think I'd be happy about turning around at 2:30-2:45 if we're 10th in line just because the airline doesn't want to get slapped with a fine.
     
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  14. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    Two different airlines.

    But then this a FF board where accuracy doesnt much matter when one wants to make a point and everybody can play airline operations manager ( perhaps they stayed at a Holiday Inn last night:D)

    Coming to this space soon ... " My flight was cancelled much too soon because there was lightning and other airlines took off I demand two F tickets to Paris as compensation"
     
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  15. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    why do the letters T, O, and double B come to mind? Ha!
     
  16. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    But if Colgan runs into a similar mess doing business as Continental Connection does United get to pay the fine?

    Quite frankly life is entirely too short to be picking nits over whether AA is paying for its child's infractions. You have a good day Sir. :)
     
  17. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    That's the problem with hard-and-fast rules. I notice that the article mentioned that many of the violations were a matter of minutes. I'm certain that most passengers would rather sit on board for another 15 minutes past the 3 hour mark if it meant taking off than to turn back and risk the flight being canceled.

    As far as whether its AA vs MQ being fined... since they're both both fully owned subsidiaries of the parent AMR then the difference as for as who pays the fine is negligible (and barely worth mentioning). After all Gerard Arpey is the CEO of both airlines and he's the one who controls the corporate policies. Maybe if it were OO or RP another independent operator (dba as XX Express/Connection) it would be worth noting the difference.
     
  18. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I think that's always been the fear that most passengers have -- or should have -- since the rule went into effect. As the 3 hour mark looms, you know someone somewhere is doing the maths as to whether it's better to turn the plane around or to risk it.

    Personally I'd live at 3 1/2 hours rather than sit there for 2 1/2, then turn back and have to get rebooked. But like you said that's the problem with hard-and-fast rules.
     
  19. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    On one hand I would think it a good idea to put it to a passenger vote... but then the airlines might be liable for inciting fights between the pax!
     
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  20. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    But if you don't have a hard and fast rule, who gets to make the decision? The pilot? The airline? The FAA?

    Maybe the hard and fast rule would be more acceptable to its critics if the penalty was paid to the passengers (after all, the whole point is to protect them from "pain and suffering", so why don't they get the money?)
     
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  21. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    Well, $250k of the $900k fine is to be paid in vouchers and reimbursements to the inconvenienced pax... it would be nicer if it was closer to 50% to the pax :)
     
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  22. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    This is the most interesting piece of the story. Who is harmed by these long ground delays? Certainly not the government...yet they get the penalty under the law. (it's nice to make the rules) That the pax didn't get anything always kind of irked me.

    This story has a pleasant twist that $250k in compensation is going to pax on these flights...and pax on future delayed flights. That could be $1 per pax to the next 250k delayed pax, but I suspect it is something more significant to a smaller number of delayed pax.

    This is the most beneficial part of the story for pax.
     
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  23. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I think that's the best part, but it's probably a preset amount per passenger. The story mentions 608 passengers on 15 flights, so that works out to roughly one standard $400 voucher per head. My guess is that AMR haggled down the fine somehow to $1k a head plus $400 each payable to the passenger themselves.

    But I'm just guessing... the numbers just sort of fit.
     
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  24. NYBanker
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    The math fits. It can't be too far off from that.

    I wish the law would have stipulated the circa $20k fine was paid to each pax, not the government. That would be a great way to address ground delays. For the average Joe, that would be an amount equal to 40% of his household income.

    Even so, $400 for a 3 hour ground delay is reasonable...many pax sign up for that offer when there is an VDB situation...
     
  25. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Yeah it seems reasonable, but it makes you wonder as you said where will the money go when someone does get dinged with the big fine.

    Obviously it would be good if there was some transparency to it, but of course it will most likely end up in some slush fund somewhere.

    That is of course assuming anybody (else) eventually ends up being fined.

    -- edit:

    Of course the worst part is that the airlines might look at it and say 3:01 is the same as 8:01, so after they're committed to pay the fine past the 3 hour mark then they can leave you in there for all eternity. :(
     

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