New airline rules to kick in Thursday

(NBC) - New airline delay rules designed to protect passengers from long delays kick in Thursday, just as spring and summer air travel starts to heat up.

The government imposed rules follow years of debate between the airline industry and passenger rights groups fed up with extreme cases of sit-and-wait.

The new passenger protection rules state:

  • After two hours of delays, passengers must be given clean water, food and working on-board toilets.
  • After three hours, airlines must allow passengers the option to deplane.

Some travel experts say the rules may end up backfiring for passengers already dealing with an outdated and overwhelmed system.

"They're going to pull those planes back into the gate and cancel those flights, and with the flights being so heavily booked it's going to take a long time," warns the Air Travelers Association's David Stempler.

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