U.S. airlines could face stiff fines for stranding passengers aboard grounded planes for more than three hours, according to a regulation that officials said yesterday was aimed at upholding passenger rights.

 

The Transportation Department initiative tries to address public and government frustration with lengthy runway delays, especially those that leave passengers without food, water or adequate bathroom facilities.

 

“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 told reporters.