Tarmac delays are proving to be costly for two of the biggest carriers in the nation. In addition to bad publicity and lost productivity, tarmac delays are also resulting in hefty fines from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have been hit particularly hard. The FAA says that it fined American Airlines $1 million for violating federal rules that forbid lengthy tarmac delays. Delta was fined $750,000 for the same offenses. Some of the violations cited date back to 2015.
Federal regulations require airlines to give passengers opportunities to deplane from domestic flights once they've spent three hours on a tarmac. That window jumps up to four hours for international flights. Both Delta and American have been found guilty of violating these rules by the FAA. However, American Airlines won't be forced to pay the full $1 million to the FAA. The airline was actually credited $450,000 after compensating passengers. Delta also received a hefty credit from the FAA after compensating passengers and setting up some new technology to address the issue of tarmac delays. Affected Delta passengers were compensated with cash reimbursements, travel vouchers and SkyMiles credits.
Delta recently invested millions of dollars in technology upgrades and other changes that will help the carrier to increase the efficiency of aircraft movement at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). American also claims to have invested heavily in measures that will help to prevent future delays. Both Delta and American claim that their high-profile tarmac delays have been the results of extreme weather conditions and unpredictable system outages.