July 3, 2022

United Airlines Fined $1.9 Million for Long Tarmac Delays

In United Airlines’ latest scandal, they have been fined $1.9 million for their year-long tarmac delays. United is the first airline to be fined under a new Department of Transportation rule that prohibits airlines from keeping passengers on an airplane at the airport after it has landed and is sitting on the ground waiting to depart again.

This was a huge victory for travelers who were tired of being trapped in planes with little food or water while United employees spent hours trying to find another plane that could fly them anywhere else.

The fine was for more than 16,000 of these tarmac delays that happened between December 2017 and January 2018 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. However, they aren’t the only airline to be fined under this new rule. Frontier Airlines received a $1.5 million fine for their 699 flights delayed on the tarmac last year.

You can read about each fine here .

I will say, I get the economics of United’s decisions (although it sounds like they did everything wrong) but I don’t think airlines should be able to make dozens of plane changes every day to keep costs down when it means making passengers wait an hour or more in planes without water or food just so some people can fly out on one plane and others can fly out on another.

I understand the idea behind this cost-saving practice because it makes cents (see what I did there? Because they save money by using pennies and…never mind). The problem is that when you do things like having one pilot work a five-hour flight and then turn right around to pick up a new crew and passengers for another five-hour flight, it’s going to be exhausting for everyone involved and unsafe in the long run no matter how much air freshener you use .

So while I support the fine because who wouldn’t want to be trapped on an airplane for hours on end, at the same time I can understand why airlines are fighting back against this decision. They don’t want to pay $2 million in fines just because they’re trying to keep costs down.

But, I guess when it comes down to it, you could say that about everything these days including public transportation so next time I’ll leave my car parked right where it is and take the bus. Or maybe not.

For some reason whenever someone mentions United Airlines they immediately go into a tailspin of rage and disgust…but some people wonder if the company has gotten more than their fair share of bad press . Let’s look at United Airlines through the lens history. We may find out that United has had their fair share of troubles in the past, but they aren’t any more trouble than the other airlines out there.

The year was 1931 when a founder of United Airlines, Varney Speed Lines , adopted the name after buying Boeing Air Transport’s UATC. They have been using this name ever since and were undefeated by rivals until they merged with Capital Airlines (1958) and then finally acquired Pan Am (1980). You can say that it wasn’t until this merger that people became familiar with the company. Once formed on April 6, 1961, United brought on some negative press right off the bat. After acquiring Chicago and Southern Air Lines on July 12th, only two weeks later they announced plans to merge with Capital Airlines.

The merger was a highly contested one, with everyone from the Civil Aeronautics Board to small communities to Pan Am fighting for their own interests. Citizens of Wichita, Kansas protested against the arrival of Capital Airlines because they felt that the city was giving money away and that there would be less jobs than before. The merging of United and Capital saw 33% of all airline travel take place on just three airlines: United, American, and Eastern Airlines , creating an unbalanced market of power.