The Department of Transportation in 2012 leveled more than $3.6 million in fines against airlines for violating various consumer rules, including a regulation prohibiting airlines from keeping passengers on the tarmac for more than three hours.
The 49 consent orders issued during the year include a pair handed down in late December and top the previous high set in 2011. That year, the department issued 47 orders and more than $3.2 million in fines.
On Wednesday, the Department of Transportation announced a $150,000 fine against Panamanian carrier Copa Airlines. The airline in June kept passengers on a Panama-bound flight on the tarmac at JFK Airport for five hours and 34 minutes and didn’t offer food for more than four hours, according to the DOT.
The DOT also said a “contingency plan for tarmac delays, posted on (Copa’s) website, failed to include a number of assurances required by DOT rules.”
The government also levied a $55,000 fine against Virgin America Airlines. Virgin in July didn’t notify passengers on a San Francisco-bound flight that was delayed at a gate at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport for two hours and 16 minutes that they could leave the aircraft before it departed, according to the DOT.