Three airlines just scored a first with the U.S. government: they were fined for leaving passengers in the lurch. Continental Airlines, ExpressJet (a Continental affiliate) and Mesaba (part of Delta) racked up a total punishment of $175,000 when their combined efforts left fliers on a plane in Minnesota for six hours.
Continental and ExpressJet were slapped with a fine of $100,000, while Mesaba was nailed for $75,000, according to the Department of Transportation.
With the busiest travel day of the year right around the corner, the timing couldn’t have been better. Airlines that let their guards down could face stiff fines. And, let’s face it: these airlines can’t afford peanuts, let alone five- and six-figure fines.
On August 8, 2009, 47 passengers were stuck on a Continental Express plane, which was diverted to Rochester, Minnesota (the original plan was Houston to Minneapolis), where they were forced to spend the night. ExpressJet operated the flight, while Mesaba, the only airline working the airport, refused to let passengers leave the plane.