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(AP Photo/Lou Martins, File)
SALT LAKE CITY -- There will be no more sitting on the tarmac, waiting for the plane to take off - at least, no more waiting for longer than three hours.
The transportation department is telling airlines they have to let passengers off the plane if it's sitting on the tarmac for more than three hours.
The decision comes after several high-profile cases of passengers left on the tarmac this past decade. In one case in Houston in 2006, passengers were stuck on their plane for up to nine hours because of a tornado warning and a series of thunderstorms. At Salt Lake International, people tell KSL they've been there and done that, just not in Utah.
"In Atlanta one time, and then at JFK," said a man who said his longest wait on the tarmac was over four hours.
"In Chicago," said a woman who'd spent two-and-a-half hours on her plane before it took off. "If it's more than 30 minutes," she added, "they should have to keep their oxygen on."
The new rules mean airlines would have to pay a fine of $27,500 per passenger, for each violation of the three hour limit. After two hours, airlines would have to provide food and water, along with access to working bathroom facilities.
The Air Transport Association, which represents U.S. airlines, said it would comply with the rules, but warned that it could lead to more canceled flights. The transportation department says exceptions would be made in the case of safety or security needs, or if air traffic controllers tell the pilot not to return to the terminal.
In Salt Lake City, passengers wondered why the limit would be three hours.
"Three hours is pretty long," one man said. "I don't see why they couldn't do two."