Report: Airlines stranded a record number of passengers last year

But the increase could also be because the federal government has been less than aggressive in using penalties against the airline industry, the travel website says.

TPG, citing data from the U.S. Transportation Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, said 244 flights were delayed at least three hours in the first 11 months of 2018. That’s compared with 164 the previous year — and only 39 delays in 2014.

The Transportation Department has the authority to impose fines of up to $27,500 per passenger for tarmac delays that last for at least three hours on domestic flights or four hours on international flights. The agency began levying the fines in 2010 following years of consumer complaints about the practice, particularly after an epic delay caused by an ice storm on Valentine’s Day in 2007. Hundreds of JetBlue Airways passengers spent that day stuck without food aboard aircraft at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Weeks earlier, an American Airlines aircraft stranded passengers for eight hours in Texas.