"This is President Obama's Passenger Bill of Rights," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Monday, announcing regulations designed to limit the effect and duration of tarmac delays. The rules, which take effect in 120 days, require airlines to provide food and drink after a two-hour delay, and mandate that the plane either depart or return passengers to the gate in the event of a three-hour delay. Though hailed by some passenger-rights advocates as a "Christmas miracle," experts said stiff fines of $27,500 per passenger would require airlines to re-engineer their entire schedule to comply with the rule. The Air Transport Association said airlines "will comply with the new rule even though we believe it will lead to unintended consequences -- more [canceled] flights and greater passenger inconvenience."

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