White House Sets 3-Hour Limit on Tarmac Waits

Passengers must be allowed to deplane under new regulation
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 21, 2009 9:49 AM CST
In this Feb. 14, 2007 photo taken with a cell phone, stranded passengers aboard JetBlue Flight 751 walk around the cabin, while waiting hours to take off at JFK International Airport in New York.   (AP Photo/Lou Martins, File)
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(Newser) – The Transportation Department is ordering airlines to let passengers stuck in stranded airplanes to deplane after three hours. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the new three-hour limit today, along with other new passenger protections long sought by consumer advocates. From January to June this year, 613 planes were delayed on tarmacs for more than three hours, their passengers kept on board.

Under the new rule, airlines must provide food and water for passengers within two hours of a plane being delayed on a tarmac and maintain operable lavatories. They must also provide medical attention when necessary. The new rule will go into effect in 120 days.

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