The date was December 24, 1997. The place was Milwaukee. The Flight: 1536, originally scheduled from SNA to ORD. A bad snowstorm forced the plane to divert to Milwaukee, where the passengers spent between five and six hours (depending on which news story you read) on Christmas Eve sitting on the runway. The flight was eventually cancelled, leaving the passengers stuck in the airport terminal on Christmas without much holiday cheer.
The passengers filed a suit which alleged a breach of contract for failure to deliver them to Chicago in a timely and industry-acceptable manner.
Just last Friday, October 6th, 2000, a Cook County Circuit judge approved a settlement which will pay each passenger $500 cash and a $500 unrestricted flight voucher. Each passenger may also get up to $200.00 for itemized out-of-pocket expenses, without verification or receipts.
"This matter has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all parties," the passengers' attorney told the media. "We applaud United's cooperation in settling this matter."
So let's work this out: ($500.00 cash + $200.00 reimbursed cash) / 5.5 hours = $127.27.
In other words, each passenger earned $127.27 per hour for their inconvenience while holding on the runway---far more than some of the flight crew probably earned working the same flight!