Airlines Who Fail Families Pay Fines

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By George Hatcher

In the first couple of weeks after a crash, an airline carrier will distribute partial payments of $20,000 to $30,000 to each family with no catches. Families should know that this money is available to them.

Money is not that important to families waiting for news of their lost loved ones, but for some, even that soon after someone is gone, the family is feeling the hurt. In many places, it is a paycheck to paycheck world. Airlines can drag their feet in regards to this partial payment. This is what is behind the recent fine to Asiana.

Asiana was fined $500,000 last month because they failed to attend to the victims and their families properly for the Asiana flight 214 in San Francisco in July. Airlines have to follow their “family assistance plan.” You’ve seen parts of that plan before—the toll free phone number, the reports of assistance to families. These things aren’t out of the goodness of their hearts, but the consequence of the Foreign Air Carrier Family Support Act of 1997.

Asiana dragged their feet in contacting families—about ¾ of the passengers were approached within 2 days, but some took as long as five days. Imagine that your loved ones died or were severely injured, and the airline didn’t call for five days. That’s an eternity.

The Department of Transportation’s statement on the matter said that “Asiana’s response to the crash of flight 214 indicates that the carrier failed to commit sufficient resources to carry out its family assistance plan….In the very rare event of a crash, airlines have a responsibility to provide their full support to help passengers and their families by following all the elements of their family assistance plans…The last thing families and passengers should have to worry about at such a stressful time is how to get information from their carrier.” Additionally, Asiana failed to widely publish the family members’ information hot line, failed to send in an adequate number of translators and personnel, in addition to not contacting family members quickly enough.

Take a look at the plan below:

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