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Delta fined $2 million for failing to help disabled passengers

February 17, 2011 | 10:55 am

Deltalax The U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday fined Delta Air Lines $2 million for violating rules that protect disabled passengers.

The fine is the largest non-safety-related penalty ever imposed on an airline by the department.

In response to complaints by disabled passengers, the department's Aviation Enforcement Office investigated the airline and found that it failed to offer disabled passengers the help required under federal rules to get on and off the plane.

The incidents that led to the fine occurred in 2007 and 2008 and involved passengers in wheelchairs who were left unattended for up to 30 minutes either on the plane after other passengers had departed or in a terminal or jetway, according to federal records.

The Aviation Enforcement Office also found that Delta failed to respond adequately to disability complaints and didn't properly report each complaint with the federal agency.

In response to the fine, Delta issued a statement saying that the airline takes "the responsibility of serving customers with disabilities seriously and has made significant investments in technology, feedback assessment, and training since the issues in 2007 and 2008."

Of the of $2-million penalty, $750,000 must be paid by the carrier and up to $1,250,000 may be used to improve its service to disabled passengers, according to the Department of Transportation.

-- Hugo Martin

Photo: A passenger and worker talk at the Delta Air Lines counter at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times