Under the rule, airlines that do not provide food and water after two hours or a chance to disembark after three hours will face penalties of $27,500 a passenger, the secretary of transportation announced on Monday.
In recent years, relatively few flights have been held on the ground for more than three hours — about 1,500 a year, or roughly one out of 6,200 flights — but that has been enough to affect more than 100,000 passengers a year and to create substantial public resentment.
“This is President Obama’s Passenger Bill of Rights,” said the secretary, Ray LaHood, using the term favored by proponents of like-minded legislation that is before Congress. The administration’s action does not require Congressional approval.
But the airlines predicted that the rule would create a new set of complications and might force them to put more breathing room into their schedules.