The Department of Transportation seems to have taken some action over the incident in August when 47 passengers were stranded on a tarmac in Rochester, Minn. after their aircraft diverted there due to thunderstorms.
Federal officials are fining three airlines a total of $175,000 for their role in the stranding of passengers overnight on an airport tarmac in Rochester, Minn., this summer. The Department of Transportation says it fined Houston-based Continental Airlines and its regional airline partner ExpressJet a combined $100,000 for their part in the stranding of Continental Express Flight 2816 on Aug. 8. DOT also said in a statement that it has fined Mesaba Airlines, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. Flight 2816 was en route from Houston to Minneapolis carrying 47 passengers when thunderstorms forced it to divert to Rochester. The airport closed and a Mesaba employee refused to open the terminal for the stranded passengers.
That's all fine and good. In my humble opinion, those airlines should be fined... especially Mesaba, who were the ones that prohibited the passengers from entering the terminal and forced them to sit in the smelly airplane.
But here's the problem: It's not like the DoT is going to divvy up that $175K among the passengers on the plane. Basically, they fined the airlines to punish them (and presumably, to send the message that this was unacceptable and cannot happen again). Meanwhile the passengers get diddly squat. Sure... Their tickets were refunded and they got some vouchers. But if the airlines are paying a fine, why should the money go to the government?