Blizzard + Tarmac Delays = Fines or No Fines?

Carl Unger, December 30, 2010
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q: The recent blizzard caused quite the spate of tarmac delays. Will we finally see some fines for these violations?

    A: It's a little premature to say just yet, but it seems unlikely we'll see many fines, or at least any hefty ones. Most of the tarmac delay nightmare stories we've heard involve international carriers, which aren't covered by the Department of Transportation's tarmac delay rules. There's a chance the DOT could fine these airlines if it turns out they violated their own policies, but otherwise the DOT has little jurisdiction.

    Domestic carriers will probably be spared also, because the circumstances—a major snowstorm—fall within the exemptions written into the rule in the first place. The DOT allows pilots and air traffic control to overrule the rule when the conditions on the ground, including weather, make it unsafe to unload passengers. So unless a major case of poor judgment is determined to have resulted in a tarmac delay, it's hard to see any fines coming. Keep in mind that the DOT hasn't issued any fines since the rules took effect.