Due to record snowfall, DFW airport lead the nation in tarmac delays in February, but representatives for the airport said they shouldn't be judged against a 100-year snowfall in an otherwise perfect month.
On Feb. 11, passengers on 23 flights were trapped on board for more than three hours away from the gate with the doors closed while waiting to de-ice and take-off, according to numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Eight additional flights left travelers stranded on the tarmac for four hours or more.
Those delays all came during a record-setting snowstorm that dropped a foot of snow on Feb. 11.
American Airlines, the largest carrier at DFW, led the list with 16 flights delayed more than three hours. But, US Airways had the most flights delayed more than four hours, with five flights that crossed that mark.
The longest tarmac delay was Flight 278 from DFW to Memphis, which taxied for more than four and half hours before take-off.
DFW Airport's David Magana said the airport had no tarmac delays for the rest of the month and that the airport was underprepared for the delays because the level of snowfall was nowhere near what was forecasted.
"The record snowfall that we got was nowhere in the forecast and so our airlines made preparations for a certain amount of snow," Magana said. "We were looking at a 2- to 4-inches forecast for snow ... if you take out those two days we're not even on the list. So, chalk it up to a great achievement by Mother Nature to give North Texas 12- to 14-inches of snow."
An American Airlines spokesperson agreed with Magana statement. US Airways has yet to respond.
Starting April 29, the government will impose fines of more than $27,000 per passenger for flights with tarmac delays topping three hours. If those fines had been in place in February, some airlines at DFW would have been knocked into a financial tailspin.
NBC DFW's Randy McIlwain contributed to this story.