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3-Hour 'Trapped on Tarmac' Delays Hit Record Low

 / Updated 
Image: Los Angeles airport
Planes taxi at at Los Angeles International Airport. Nik Wheeler / Alamy

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Although recent record snowfalls in the northeast may mess with the 2015 tallies, during 2014, airlines reported a record low number of tarmac delays longer than three hours.

A new report from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that during 2014, only 30 domestic flights had tarmac delays longer than three hours. Nine international flights had tarmac delays longer than four hours at U.S. airports.

That's a steep turnaround from 2009, when 868 domestic flights had tarmac delays longer than three hours. That was also the last full year before DOT rules went into effect barring U.S. carriers operating domestic flights from keeping passengers on board planes delayed beyond three hours.

The rule went into effect in April 2010. The following year, the rule was applied to U.S. and foreign carriers operating international flights to or from the U.S.

The latest numbers are even a decline from 2013, when there were 84 domestic flights with tarmac delays longer than three hours and 55 international flights with tarmac delays longer than four hours at U.S. airports.

“These tarmac delay rules are meant to protect passengers and it appears that the airlines have gotten the message,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement.

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