The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined American Eagle Airlines $900,000 for a lengthy tarmac delay at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on 29 May 2011.

The airline is the first to be fined under a new DOT rule, which came into force in April 2010, setting a three-hour limit for tarmac delays on domestic flights.

Under the new rule, US airlines operating aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats are prohibited from remaining stranded on the tarmac for more than three hours at large, medium, small and non-hub airports without giving passengers an opportunity to deplane.

The airline had tarmac delays of up to 225 minutes on 15 flights arriving at Chicago O’Hare, exceeding the limit by 45 minutes and affecting 608 passengers.

Of the fine, $650,000 must be paid within 30 days, while the remaining $250,000 will go to the passengers affected by the delayed flights in the form of refunds, vouchers and frequent flyer mile awards.