Buttigieg put the CEO of Southwest Airlines on notice Thursday, warning that the Transportation Department will take action if the airline fails to compensate passengers for cancellations that have left travelers stranded across the country.
Despite the warning, thousands of customers were still left stranded at airports, and lost valuable time with their families during the holiday week. It’s left several frustrated travelers wondering when they’ll get their money back.
Below are previous times that the DOT has fined airlines:
Frontier Airlines fined $2.2 million in 2022
In November of 2022, the Transportation Department fined six airlines more than $7 million for delaying refunds so long that they violated consumer-protection rules. The DOT also required that more than $600 million in refunds be made to the several passengers who expressed frustrations.
Most of the airlines facing penalties were foreign, but Denver-based Frontier Airlines faced the largest fine at $2.2 million. The other five airlines — Air India, TAP Portugal, Aeromexico, El Al and Avianca — faced fines between $750,000 and $1.4 million, according to Politico.
Frontier spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz told Nexstar the airline has paid $222 million to passengers since 2020 and nearly $100 million in “goodwill refunds” that were “over and above the DOT requirements.”
Air Canada fined $2 million in DOT settlement in 2021
In June 2021, the agency reached an agreement with Air Canada to settle on a $2 million fine after “extreme delays” in refunding passengers for flights to or from the United States at the beginning of COVID-19.
American Airlines, Delta, Frontier fined in 2017
Frontier Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines were all fined in July 2017 for violating U.S. Transportation Department airline consumer-protection rules.
The department said it fined Frontier Airlines $400,000 for violating oversales and disability rules, American Airlines $250,000 for failing to make timely refunds to passengers, and Delta Air Lines $200,000 for filing inaccurate baggage reports, Reuters reported.
American Airlines fined $1.6 million in 2016
In December of 2016, the DOT fined American Airlines $1.6 million for tarmac delays. USA Today reported that the airline left dozens of planes on tarmacs for more than three hours without allowing passengers to leave.
Southwest Airlines fined $1.6 million in 2015
According to The Disciples of Flight aviation blog, the 2016 fine represented the most the DOT had ever fined an air carrier for excessive tarmac delays, “matching a similar $1.6 million dollar fine they issued to Southwest Airlines in 2015.”