The United Airlines flight was supposed to leave Kansas City for Chicago at 10:53 a.m.
After making passengers wait 40 minutes before even rolling onto the tarmac, the plane sat for an additional three hours and 17 minutes because thunderstorms had shut down flights in Chicago.
The flight finally arrived at O'Hare International Airport at 4:24 p.m. on March 8, 2009 — four hours late.
"Flightmares." That’s what some people call those rare but horrific tarmac waits.
Starting today, the government is effectively banning them, but the trade-off could be more canceled flights.
Airlines will be punished — as much as $27,500 per passenger — for parking planes on the tarmac longer than three hours with passengers inside. And even before the deadline, water and food must be made available.
"Too many people have sat on too many runways for more than three hours without food, water and without any information," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
But the industry says the fines are so heavy — a full plane could cost more than $4 million — that aircraft will return to the gate if there is even an inkling they won't meet the three-hour mandate. The result could be no flight at all.
"We will do our best to comply in a way that has the least amount of inconvenience to customers," said David Castelveter, Air Transport Association spokesman. "But at the end of the day, there will be cancellations driven by this new rule."
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