On the final day of the year, the U.S. Department of Transportation levied fines against two airlines that kept passengers stranded on delayed flights, pushing the number of violations issued against airlines in 2012 to a record.
The federal agency recorded 49 violations in 2012, totaling $3.6 million in fines, with the final two coming against Copa Airlines of Panama and California-based Virgin America. The previous high number of fines came in 2011, when the agency levied 47 violations, totaling about $3.3 million.
The agency issued a fine of $150,000 against Copa Airlines for leaving passengers stranded on a plane at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport for five hours and 34 minutes in June on a flight bound for Panama. The agency said passengers were not offered food until more than four hours into the delay, in violation of federal rules.
Virgin America was fined $55,000 for keeping passengers on a flight in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport for more than two hours without notifying them that they had the option of returning to the terminal, also a violation of federal rules.