Punishing Companies for Not Screwing Up

You’d think that if a company self-reported a potential problem and then found out that they didn’t, in fact, break any rules, that the department responsible for regulating that industry would be happy to find out there were no problems and they could go on about their merry little way. But, it’s government, so you know that’s just not going to happen.

Common sense seems to have been banned from the building at the Department of Transportation according to Cranky Flier.

There have been plenty of questionable decisions coming from the Department of Transportation lately, but none more insane than the decision to fine United for accidentally reporting tarmac delays. That’s right. United was overly cautious and now owes at least $6,000 (and another $6,000 if they do it again). I am now asking the DOT for proof that a monkey isn’t running that organization, because I can’t imagine a human making such an absurd ruling.

When I first heard this, I thought it was a joke. But no, it’s not. In May, the first month when the tarmac delay rule was in force, United reported four flights that had exceeded the three hour ground time permitted. They were included in the DOT monthly report but later retracted. See, United made a mistake and was overly cautious, so in exchange, the airline has been slapped with a fine.

I would like to see this decision overturned. What’s more, I’d like to see the offending bureaucrat’s salary have a $6,000 fine removed. I suspect if the punishment for supremely stupid decisions had an impact on the take home pay of said bureaucrats, we’d see a little sanity return to the department.

3 thoughts on “Punishing Companies for Not Screwing Up”

  1. Also who the hell fines an international airline a measly $6,000? Its hardly a significant fine to a company that large.

    I also fear how much of my taxpayer money was wasted filing and routing all this crap and how much will be wasted when United inevitably fights it so there isn’t a ding on their DoT record.

  2. Not necessarily; one would have to have detailed knowledge to be reasonably sure it doesn’t give them some advantage.

    There is a difference between an airline being over-regulated, and an airline lying about what the violation was. You’ve read one side of the story, and the government employee is legally prohibited from telling his side (sure, maybe senior management is allowed to issue press releases, but not the guy actually responsible for the decision).

    For instance, if over-reporting now lowers the bar for when they are busier (Thanksgiving and Christmas travel is coming up). Or some other company may have been forced to pick up slack.

    If you think the government employee should be fined $6000 for this without really knowing anything about the story, then you agree it is ok for the government to levy fines on anyone, including you, without due process of law. That’s the type of crap thinking that fires/rehires Shirley Sherrod, or calls Sgt. James Crowley stupid for doing his job.

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