"We think this actually exceeds the kind of legislation that has been introduced in the past. It's a much tougher rule than proposed by the previous administration and goes to our feeling that passengers have rights," said LaHood.
Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, co-authors of the passengers' rights bill, have supported DOT efforts to impose consumer protections, but say legislation is still necessary to hold airlines accountable for meeting standards.
There were 864 flights delayed on runways by three or more hours this year through Oct. 30, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Last month the government took the unprecedented step of fining three airlines a total of $175,000 for their role in stranding 49 passengers -- and two children held on laps -- overnight on a Continental Express plane at Rochester, Minn., on Aug. 8.
ABC News' Brian Hartman contributed to this report.