The U.S. Department of Transportation, under the direction of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, has been noticeably aggressive in protecting the interest of passengers.

As of this week, the DOT has filed 60 orders finding that airlines had violated various laws and regulations, and issued civil penalties of more than $6 million.

Fifty of the penalties were under $100,000, with a lot of complaints for violating federal rules for advertising fares, failing to disclose that a flight was being operated by a code-share partner and other more minor violations.

However, the DOT hit Delta Air Lines with a $2 million fine in February, accusing the carrier of violating rules on how airlines are to handle disabled travelers.

In particular, the department found that Delta too often left passengers in wheelchairs unattended for more than 30 minutes. It also found that the carrier failed to properly report and respond to complaints about disability issues.

Also left smarting was American Eagles Airlines, which became the first air carrier to be fined for not handling tarmac delays properly. The department assessed a $900,000 penalty against the airline for its handling of disruptions at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport during May 29 thunderstorms.

DOT determined that 15 American Eagle arriving flights were left out on the concrete for more than the three hours permitted by a 2010 rule.

In most cases, the offending carriers will be forgiven part of their fines if they go and sin no more. In some cases, a portion of the fine can be invested in correcting the problem identified by the DOT investigation.

LaHood also announced new consumer protections, including rules that increased the amount that airlines must pay if they involuntarily “bump” a passenger from an overbooked flight. He also put a four-hour limit on tarmac delays on international flights, to along with the three-hour limit on domestic flights.

Keep reading for the list of companies and penalties involved (complete as of Dec. 21, 2011).


Date Company Penalty
01/05/2011 Aeromexico $60,000
01/05/2011 Capital Airways $175,000
01/07/2011 Mesaba Aviation $125,000
02/07/2011 Virgin America $40,000
02/09/2011 Tour Beyond, d/b/a China Spree Travel $35,000
02/15/2011 Trinity Air Ambulance International LLC $30,000
02/17/2011 Delta Air Lines $2,000,000
02/28/2011 American Airlines $90,000
03/04/2011 Aerovias de Intergracion Regional, AIRES S.A. $20,000
03/15/2011 Southwest Airlines Co. $50,000
03/18/2011 Cayman Airways $40,000
04/05/2011 AirTran Airways $30,000
04/05/2011 Flyther4less.com $40,000
04/21/2011 Expedia $29,000
04/26/2011 AirTrade International $50,000
04/29/2011 OpenSkies SAS $20,000
05/06/2011 Wholesale Travel Center $30,000
05/06/2011 Automobile Club of New York, d/b/a AAA New York $20,000
05/06/2011 American Travel Solutions $45,000
05/06/2011 AirGorilla $30,000
05/06/2011 Fareportal $50,000
05/16/2011 Icelandair Group, a/k/a Flugleidir, h.f., d/b/a Icelandair $30,000
06/02/2011 Continental Airlines $120,000
06/02/2011 US Airways $45,000
06/02/2011 Global Airline Services, and Harold J. Pareti $120,000
06/03/2011 TACA International Airlines, S.A. $55,000
06/09/2011 Frontier Airlines $40,000
06/17/2011 Deutsche Lufthansa AG $50,000
06/17/2011 Cameron Air Services $20,000
06/21/2011 China Airlines $80,000
07/01/2011 Atkinson & Mullen Travel II; AVW II; AMCAL Vacations II; and ABV d/b/a Apple Vacations $50,000
07/01/2011 Globester $80,000
07/01/2011 LBF Travel $30,000
07/11/2011 Atlantic Southeast Airlines $200,000
08/04/2011 United Air Lines $20,000
08/04/2011 Air Canada $50,000
08/10/2011 Aviation Advantage $150,000
08/10/2011 Swift Air $100,000
08/16/2011 Air Charter, d/b/a Air Flamenco $30,000
08/18/2011 Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise $50,000
08/25/2011 Thai Airways International Public Company Limited $70,000
08/25/2011 The Craig Evan Corporation d/b/a Flightexec $10,000
08/30/2011 Emirates $100,000
08/30/2011 JetBlue Airways $50,000
09/15/2011 Amadeus IT Group, S.A. $95,000
09/16/2011 Lowestfare.com $50,000
09/26/2011 Virgin Atlantic Airways $50,000
10/11/2011 Aerovias de intergracion Regional, AIRES S.A. $25,000
10/17/2011 Orbitz Worldwide $60,000
10/24/2011 Destination Southern Africa, and Destination Southern Africa d/b/a South African Airways Vactions $20,000
10/24/2011 South African Airways PTY Limited $55,000
10/26/2011 LAN Airlines, S.A. $50,000
10/26/2011 Viajes Galiana $10,000
10/28/2011 Caribbean Airlines Limited $60,000
11/02/2011 United Air Lines $60,000
11/09/2011 BusinessJet Class $40,000
11/14/2011 American Eagle Airlines $900,000
11/21/2011 Spirit Airlines $50,000
11/22/2011 SkyWest Airlines $40,000
Total $6,124,000

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