Airlines Fined for Stranding Flyers on Tarmac
Dunne 175K for locking passengers on delayed flight
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2009 1:43 AM CST
Passengers were stranded on the Continental jet after it diverted to Rochester, Minn., due to bad weather.   (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

(Newser) – Three airlines have landed $175,000 in federal fines for stranding 47 passengers in a locked plane on a Minnesota tarmac overnight. The passengers were stuck on a Continental Airlines plane—without a working toilet—after crewmembers were told that passengers couldn't disembark because security staff had left for the night. The fine is the Department of Transportation's first-ever punishment against airlines for leaving passengers stranded on a plane.

"This fine is not only a first but $175,000 is dissuasive enough that US domestic airlines will think about their behavior before putting passengers in harm's way," the spokesman of group backing a passengers' bill of rights tells the Los Angeles Times. "The DOT appears to be willing to protect us. For that we are grateful."