Airline passengers have rights, and these new rules will require airlines to live up to their obligation to treat their customers fairly," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. Exceptions to the three-hour rule would be allowed only for safety and security reasons or if air traffic controllers advise a pilot that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations, the department said.
U.S. airlines operating international flights departing from or arriving in the United States "must specify, in advance, their own time limits for deplaning passengers, with the same exceptions applicable," the statement said. Airlines also are required to provide adequate food and water for passengers within two hours of their plane being delayed on the tarmac, the department said, maintain operable restrooms and provide medical attention if necessary.
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