Gov't imposes 3-hour limit on tarmac strandings

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WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Department is ordering airlines to let passengers stuck in stranded airplanes to deplane after three hours.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Monday announced the three-hour limit and 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 is effective in 120 days.

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