Earlier today the FAA proposed levying multimillion-dollar fines against United Airlines and US Airways for safety violations, including flying a plane after mechanics stuffed shop towels into an engine.

The agency is proposing to slap US Airways with a $5.4 million fine for operating 8 planes that conducted 1,647 flights from October 2008 to January 2009 that were in violation of safety or maintenance rules.  United may get hit wshamwow-snuggie-slanketith a $3.8 million fine for operating a Boeing 737 on more than 200 flights with shop towels covering openings near where oil collects in the bottom of the engine instead of using protective caps required by the carrier’s maintenance procedures.

According to FAA rules, the airlines have 30 days to plead their case before the agency can impose the fines.  Perhaps United should it explain that it wasn’t actually a towel, but a Sham-wow.  I think they’ll see the genius in that.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Reuters is reporting that there’s been an industry-wide increase of domestic air fares.  The fare increase, initiated on Tuesday by American Airlines, represents a boost in round-trip ticket prices by as much as $16 for a large number of U.S. city pairs.  The increase saw matches from Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways.
  • The L.A. Times’ Daily Travel & Deal Blog notes that Southwest Airlines, Virgin America and JetBlue are all offering $44 fares on flights within California and to Las Vegas (from California).  Check out their blog for details on each of these sales.
  • The New York Times blog In Transit notes that, “When shopping for airfare, it’s easy to overlook smaller, unfamiliar carriers. But those so-called B airlines may offer the best deal.”  One such “B airline” is a new one from Richard Branson’s Virgin Blue Group called, V Australia.  They’re now competing with United and Qantas by offering non-stop flights to destinations down under.
  • Nashville International Airport Police had to shackle an unruly passenger by the wrists and ankles to get him off a Delta airliner after it made an unscheduled landing there on Tuesday.  According to witnesses, the man would not allow the person sitting next to him to leave her seat to use the restroom.  So, the next time you’re torn between choosing a window seat and an isle seat, think of this dude’s mug-shot and choose the isle.  I’d gladly take the beverage cart in the elbow a 1000 times  before asking this guy for permission to go to the john.