Federal officials in the United States have launched an investigation after a delayed Virgin Atlantic flight saw 300 passengers stranded for four hours on the tarmac at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.
United States aviation law states airlines could face fines of up to $27,500 per passengers if they exceed a three hour limit.
Virgin appears to have exceeded this limit when Flight 001 from London Heathrow was forced to land at Bradley by bad weather.
The plane had been heading to Newark International Airport.
Airport records state the flight landed at 20:23, while passengers and crew only began to disembark at 00:15 – apparently in excess of the three hour limit.
Virgin had hoped the flight would be complete its journey, but the decision was taken to disembark, with passengers completing the journey by road.
Passengers were offered water, but not food, for the duration of their time on the ground.
Department of Transport
However, the Department of Transportation (DOT) legislation – which was implemented in April – only applies to United States carriers and domestic flights.
Despite this, DOT secretary Ray LaHood indicated Virgin Atlantic could face penalties for violating other rules, saying in a statement the department was investigating the circumstances surrounding the events to see whether “any violations” occurred.
Virgin said it was presently conducting its own investigation into reports of mechanical problems with the aircraft, including suggestions the jet did not have its air-conditioner running while it was on the ground.
The airline also issued a statement apologising for any inconvenience.