Three Tarmac Delays Reported for December

Government records show three planes were held on the tarmac for more than three hours in December, but none of the delays were due to the massive post-Christmas snowstorm.

According to data collected by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the airlines' strategy to cancel flights ahead of bad weather seems to have paid off.

Delta, Pinnacle and United each had a plane stuck on the tarmac in excess of three hours -- a huge drop from last years' numbers, which indicate 34 planes had similar delays during the same time period.

Delta had the longest delay on December 12, when a flight from Detroit to Miami was held on the tarmac for three hours and 20 minutes. Pinnacle and United passed the three-hour mark by just six and nine minutes, respectively.

The three delays in December follow two months when there were no tarmac delays at all.

Starting in April 2010, airlines face fines of $27,000 per passenger for tarmac delays that pass the three-hour mark. International airlines are not subject to the rule.

Since the new rule was put into effect, only 15 domestically operated planes have sat on tarmacs in excess of three hours -- but so far, none of the airlines have been fined. Last year, the delays affected an astronomical 584 flights.

More than 300 flights waited for two hours on the tarmac last year, a number down from 371 that waited between two and three hours in December 2009.

Photo, jimmyharris, flickr
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