New York Only three flights sat on the tarmac for more than three hours in June, compared with nearly 300 a year ago, the government said Tuesday. But airlines didn’t cancel more flights to avoid potentially massive fines for those long delays.
All the flights that exceeded the limit were operated by United Airlines, and each topped the three-hour time by five minutes or less. All were flying out of Chicago’s O’Hare airport on the same day — June 18 — when thunderstorms and strong winds battered the area. United later canceled two of the three flights that were held up.
United said in a statement that the weather prevented employees from safely loading and unloading aircraft at a few points during the day. The airline said it gave passengers on the flights food, drinks and regular updates. It also provided compensation to customers on the canceled flights. All those steps are required by the DOT.
There was no limit to time on the tarmac in June 2009, when 268 flights were delayed for more than three hours.