American Airlines guts Rule 240, so you might think twice when booking them

George Hobica, November 03, 2007
Fares from Washington DC:

    Here's another installment in our continuing series looking at how airlines handle delayed and cancelled flights. If you've been reading other posts on this topic, you'll see that many airlines have clearly stated rules and procedures, and that some say they'll put you on another airline, even in first class if that's all that's available, if that airline can get you to your destination faster than your original airline can.

    Sad to say that American is not one of these airlines, at least not from our reading of their official policy, which we quote verbatim:

    "DELAYS, CANCELLATIONS AND DIVERSIONS
     
    American Airlines and American Eagle will provide customers at the airport and onboard an affected aircraft with timely and frequent updates regarding known delays, cancellations and diversions and will strive to provide the best available information concerning the duration of delays and to the extent available, the flight's anticipated departure time. We are not responsible for any special, incidental or consequential damages if we do not meet this commitment.
     
    When cancellations and major delays are experienced, you will be rerouted on our next flight with available seats. If the delay or cancellation was caused by events within our control and we do not get you to your final destination on the expected arrival day, we will provide reasonable overnight accommodations, subject to availability.
     
    In extreme circumstances, it is possible that a flight will cancel while on the ground in the city to which it was diverted. When this happens you will be rerouted on the next American Airlines or American Eagle flight with available seats, or in some circumstances on another airline or some other alternative means of transportation. If we are unable to reroute you, reasonable overnight accommodations will be provided by American Airlines or American Eagle, subject to availability.
     
    American Airlines and American Eagle will provide amenities for delayed passengers, necessary to maintain the safety and/or welfare of certain passengers such as customers with disabilities, unaccompanied children, the elderly or others to whom such amenities will be furnished consistent with special needs and/or circumstances.
     
    ESSENTIAL NEEDS DURING EXTRAORDINARY DELAYS
     
    In the case of extraordinary events that result in very lengthy onboard delays, American Airlines and American Eagle will make every reasonable effort to ensure that essential needs of food (snack bar such as Nutri-Grain®), water, restroom facilities, and basic medical assistance are met. We are not responsible for any special, incidental or consequential damages if we do not meet this commitment."

    As you can see, they'll put you on their next flight, but there's no mention of another airline's next flight. Clearly, they've gutted the traditional Rule 240. They will only put you on another airline if your flight has been diverted to an airport other than the one you originally signed up for.

    However, presumably American is still subject to European regulations on flights leaving Europe for the US, although they'd never bother to tell you this.

    See links to the airlines' contracts of carriage, terms of service, and customer commitment statements here.

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