Thursday, February 17, 2011

Delta Assessed A Record Fine

If you need assistance getting on or off a plane, think twice about Delta.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) assessed the largest civil penalty in its history, $2 million,  against Delta Air Lines for violating rules meant to protect air travelers with disabilities.  “Ensuring that passengers with disabilities receive fair treatment when they fly is a priority for the Department of Transportation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  “We take our aviation disability rules seriously and will continue to enforce them vigorously.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires all airlines to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities while boarding and deplaning aircraft.  Airlines are required to respond within 30 days to written complaints of disabled passengers and specifically address the issues raised in those complaints.  

An investigation of disability complaints filed against Delta revealed many violations of the requirement to provide Delta passengers with assistance getting on and off the airplane.  The complaint about Delta showed that it frequently did not provide an adequate written response to disability complaints nor did it properly report each disability complaint.

Delta will only need to actually part with $750,000 of the $2,000,000.  The balance may be used by Delta to improve its service to passengers with disabilities beyond what is required by law. Delta may the money toward the development and implementation of an automated wheelchair tracking system at the carrier's major hub airports, developing and distributing customer service surveys for passengers, and/or enhance its website to improve air travel accessibility.  The actual costs of these improvements by Delta is expected to be significantly greater than the credited amounts by the fine.

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