American Eagle Airlines has been hit with the first fine issued under new rules prohibiting airlines from keeping passengers stuck in planes on the tarmac for more than three hours. The regional carrier was fined $900,000 for keeping a total 608 passengers on board 15 different flights on the tarmac for too long at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in May, MarketWatch reports. The passengers had already received an average of $250 each in compensation from the airline.
"We wanted to make sure the penalty was sufficient enough to send a message to other airlines that our first enforcement sets a precedent, and that these are serious matters," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tells the New York Times. The fine could have been much higher: The maximum penalty allowed is $16.7 million, or $27,500 for each passenger. Click here to read about one of the overnight strandings that spurred the government to introduce the three-hour rule.