Jan. 14--The U.S. Department of Transportation is investigating whether to fine several airlines that left passengers stranded on flights for more than three hours after a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport.
The Nov. 1 shooting, which killed a Transportation Security Administration officer and wounded three other people, delayed 15 L.A.-bound flights, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Eleven of those flights were domestic routes that were delayed on airport tarmacs for at least three hours. Four international flights were delayed for at least four hours.
The longest delay was a Frontier Airlines flight that kept passengers on the tarmac at LAX five hours and 46 minutes, according to the Department of Transportation.
Under a rule that took effect in 2010, airlines cannot strand passengers on a delayed flight for more than three hours without giving them a chance to leave the plane. Another rule that took effect in 2011 sets a four-hour time limit on tarmac delays for international flights. Airlines that violate the rules face fines of up to $27,500 for every passenger who is stranded.
But both rules include exceptions for safety, security and air traffic control-related reasons.
Department of Transportation officials declined to comment on the pending investigation into the delays.
[For the record 1:37 PST Jan. 14: An earlier version of this post reported that a Frontier Airlines flight was delayed at Denver International Airport after the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport. The flight had arrived at LAX, where it was delayed in letting passengers deplane.]
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The Department received 755 complaints in November 2013, down from both the 988 complaints filed in November 2012 and the 857 received in October 2013.
Fine represents largest penalty since the rule limiting long tarmac delays first took effect in April 2010.
Complaints filed by air travelers about commercial airlines dropped by 14% in 2013, compared to the previous year, according to federal statistics