If you’re a frequent plane traveler, then there is one airline rule you should know. Airlines seldom, if ever, educate the public about Rule 240. Rule 240 is a term that describes what individual airlines will do in case of cancelled or delayed flights. It’s found in the “conditions of carriage” each major airlines file with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT); passengers can find these in the airlines’ websites. Since Rule 240 was originally established in the United States, this rule usually applies for U.S. carriers, and not for airlines outside the U.S., although most major international carriers have their own version of this rule.
Before the days of airline deregulation, Rule 240 used to be a federal requirement. Nowadays, however, airlines are no longer obligated to abide by these set of rules, although most major carriers continue to respect the “old rules”. And while each airline has its own version of Rule 240, most airlines formed after deregulation, such as JetBlue, Southwest and Spirit, are not even required to follow the traditional Rule 240. Although, these smaller airlines will book you on another flight, since they usually don’t have agreements with the major carriers, they can only promise to book you on their own flights as well.
Rule 240 usually applies only if the flights are canceled or delayed due to a “major schedule change”, or one of the following situations:
• Flight delays for domestic U.S. flights, usually those that results in flights arriving the day after the original scheduled arrival (varies per carrier)
• Flight delays resulting in a misconnection with your next flight.
• Change in airports for arrival or departure
• Change in connecting airports (ex. flight arrives in Midway, connecting flight will leave on O’Hare)
• Change of aircraft, from a jet to a non-jet
For “minor changes” or flight delays when the times are changed for minutes or hours, the passenger usually will be required to accept the new flights the airline will provide; the airlines are not obligated to let the passenger choose the flights he/she wants.
To be continued…