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JetBlue flight sits on tarmac for seven hours. Will anyone be fined?

Airlines can be fined $27,500 per passenger for flights that sit on the tarmac for more than three hours. But critics say enforcement has been too soft. The JetBlue delay could be a test.

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JetBlue planes, each with distinctive tail art, are seen at the JetBlue terminal at Long Beach Airport in Long Beach, Calif., last week.

Reed Saxon/AP

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The tale of a JetBlue flight stranded on a runway outside Hartford, Conn., for more than seven hours Saturday could be a fresh test of new federal rules that fine airlines for tarmac delays of longer than three hours.

JetBlue Flight 504 was one of several flights that reportedly sat on runways for hours after they were diverted from landing at New York-area airports because of a combination of events, including the Northeast snowstorm and equipment failures. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating.

Now, the airline industry and passenger's rights groups will be watching to see how the Department of Transportation applies its new rules about tarmac delays. “They’ll be watching what the DOT decides to do, who is at fault, is someone is fined, and how much,” says Andrew Compart, senior editor for Aviation Week.

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