United's Rule 240 still rules

April 13, 2010
Fares from Washington DC:

    We recently got a request from a reader asking about United Airlines' "Rule 240."

    Now before we get flamed by certain someones out there, yes, we know that Rule 240 isn't really a "rule" any more; that all airlines had a Rule 240 before deregulation in the late 1970s, and that most airlines have done away with this rule now that no government agency requires them to follow it, or they've weakened it considerably. HOWEVER....

    United Airlines, in their contract of carriage, still has a Rule 240. It's there in black and white. In their contract. We reproduce it here in full, with portions bolded and notated for emphasis. But read the fine print at the end (the force majeure clause).

    UA RULE 240: FAILURE TO OPERATE ON SCHEDULE OR FAILURE TO CARRY (NOT APPLICABLE TO STANDBY FARES.)


    A) GENERAL THE PROVISIONS OF THIS RULE APPLY ONLY TO A PASSENGER WHO HAS A TICKET AND A CONFIRMED RESERVATION ON A FLIGHT WHICH HE/SHE DOES NOT USE FOR ONE OF THE REASONS NAMED BELOW.


    B) DEFINITIONS FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS RULE, THE FOLLOWING TERMS HAVE THE MEANINGS INDICATED BELOW:
    1) COMPARABLE AIR TRANSPORTATION MEANS TRANSPORTATION PROVIDED BY AIR CARRIERS OR FOREIGN AIR CARRIERS HOLDING CERTIFICATES OF PUBLIC CONVENIENCE AND NECESSITY OR FOREIGN PERMITS.
    2) CONNECTING POINT MEANS A POINT TO WHICH A PASSENGER HOLDS OR HELD CONFIRMED SPACE ON A FLIGHT OF UA, AND OUT OF WHICH THE PASSENGER HOLDS OR HELD CONFIRMED SPACE ON A FLIGHT OF UA OR ANOTHER CARRIER. ALL AIRPORTS THROUGH WHICH A CITY IS SERVED BY ANY CARRIER SHALL BE DEEMED TO BE A SINGLE CONNECTING POINT WHEN THE RECEIVING CARRIER HAS CONFIRMED RESERVATIONS TO THE DELIVERING CARRIER.
    3) DELIVERING CARRIER MEANS A CARRIER ON WHOSE FLIGHT A PASSENGER HOLDS OR HELD CONFIRMED SPACE TO A CONNECTING POINT.
    4) MISCONNECTION OCCURS AT A CONNECTING POINT WHEN A PASSENGER HOLDING CONFIRMED SPACE IS UNABLE TO USE SUCH CONFIRMED SPACE BECAUSE THE DELIVERING CARRIER WAS UNABLE TO DELIVER HIM/HER TO THE CONNECTING POINT IN TIME TO CONNECT WITH THE RECEIVING CARRIER'S FLIGHT. NOTE: THE SAME RULES REGARDING DELIVERING AND RECEIVING CARRIER RESPONSIBILITY APPLY AT THE SUBSEQUENT POINT(S) OF MISCONNECTION AS WOULD APPLY AT THE POINT OF ORIGINAL MISCONNECTION.
    5) NEW RECEIVING CARRIER(S) MEANS A CARRIER OR COMBINATION OF CONNECTING CARRIERS, OTHER THAN THE ORIGINAL RECEIVING CARRIER(S), OPERATING BETWEEN THE POINT OF MISCONNECTION AND THE DESTINATION OR NEXT POINT OF STOPOVER OR CONNECTING POINT SHOWN ON THE PASSENGER'S TICKET, ON WHOSE FLIGHT(S) A PASSENGER IS TRANSPORTED FROM THE ORIGINAL CONNECTING POINT.
    6) ORIGINAL RECEIVING CARRIER(S) MEANS A CARRIER OR COMBINATION OF CONNECTING CARRIERS ON WHOSE FLIGHT(S) A PASSENGER ORIGINALLY HELD CONFIRMED SPACE FROM A CONNECTING POINT TO A DESTINATION, NEXT STOPOVER, OR CONNECTING POINT.
    7) OUTBOUND FLIGHT MEANS THE FLIGHT ON WHICH A PASSENGER ORIGINALLY HELD CONFIRMED SPACE BEYOND THE POINT WHERE THE SCHEDULE IRREGULARITY OR FAILURE TO CARRY OCCURS.
    8) SCHEDULE IRREGULARITY MEANS ANY OF THE FOLLOWING IRREGULARITIES OCCURRING ON DATE OF DEPARTURE:
    A) DELAY IN SCHEDULED DEPARTURE OR ARRIVAL OF A UA FLIGHT RESULTING IN MISCONNECTION, OR
    B) FLIGHT CANCELLATION, OMISSION OF A SCHEDULED STOP, OR ANY OTHER DELAY OR INTERRUPTION IN THE SCHEDULED OPERATION OF A UA FLIGHT,

    OR
    C) SUBSTITUTION OF EQUIPMENT OF A DIFFERENT CLASS OF SERVICE,
    D) SCHEDULE CHANGES WHICH REQUIRE REROUTING OF A PASSENGER AT DEPARTURE TIME BECAUSE PRIOR NOTICE OF SUCH SCHEDULE CHANGE HAD NOT BEEN GIVEN SUCH PASSENGER PRIOR TO THE PASSENGER'S ARRIVING AT THE AIRPORT FOR CHECK-IN ON THE ORIGINAL FLIGHT.
    9) SCHEDULE CHANGE MEANS: A) THE CANCELLATION OF A SCHEDULED FLIGHT WHERE NO UA
    FLIGHT OF COMPARABLE ROUTING IS AVAILABLE WITHIN TWO HOURS OF THE ORIGINAL TIME OF DEPARTURE;
    B) A CHANGE IN THE SCHEDULED DEPARTURE TIME OF A UA FLIGHT WHICH EXCEEDS TWO HOURS;
    C) A CHANGE IN THE ROUTING OF A SCHEDULED UA FLIGHT WHICH ADDS ONE OR MORE STOPS TO THE ORIGINAL ITINERARY; OR
    D) A CHANGE IN THE ROUTING OF A SCHEDULED FLIGHT THAT RESULTS IN A SCHEDULED ARRIVAL TIME MORE THAN TWO HOURS LATER THAN THE ORIGINAL SCHEDULED ARRIVAL TIME.
    C) SCHEDULE IRREGULARITY 1) WHEN A PASSENGER WILL BE DELAYED BECAUSE OF A SCHEDULE
    IRREGULARITY INVOLVING A UA FLIGHT WHICH, FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS RULE, FLIGHT DELAYS EXCEEDING 2 HRS., OR UA CANCELS THE PASSENGER'S RESERVATION PURSUANT TO PARAGRAPHS A) OR D), RULE 135 (CANCELLATION OF RESERVATIONS) EXCEPT FOR CANCELLATIONS OF RESERVATIONS DUE TO A WORK STOPPAGE:
    A) UA WILL TRANSPORT THE PASSENGER WITHOUT STOPOVER ON ITS NEXT FLIGHT ON WHICH SPACE IS AVAILABLE IN THE SAME CLASS OF SERVICE AS THE PASSENGER'S ORIGINAL OUTBOUND FLIGHT AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO THE PASSENGER.

    B) IF UA IS UNABLE TO PROVIDE ONWARD TRANSPORTATION ACCEPTABLE TO THE PASSENGER, UA, WITH CONCURRENCE OF THE PASSENGER, MAY ARRANGE FOR THE TRANSPORTATION ON ANOTHER CARRIER OR COMBINATION OF CARRIERS WITH WHOM UA HAS AGREEMENTS FOR SUCH TRANSPORTATION. THE PASSENGER WILL BE TRANSPORTED WITHOUT STOPOVER ON ITS (THEIR) NEXT FLIGHT(S), IN THE SAME CLASS OF SERVICE AS THE PASSENGER'S ORIGINAL OUTBOUND FLIGHT AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO THE PASSENGER. [Airfarewatchdog.com note: what this means is that they will attempt to put you on another airline if your flight is delayed or canceled; they are not legally required to do so by any government law, but a contract is a legal document]

    C) IF SPACE IS ONLY AVAILABLE AND USED ON A UA FLIGHT(S) OF A LOWER CLASS OF SERVICE ACCEPTABLE TO THE PASSENGER, UA WILL PROVIDE A REFUND OF THE DIFFERENCE IN FARES PURSUANT TO RULE 260 (REFUNDS-INVOLUNTARY). [Airfarewatchdog.com note: so if you bought a first class ticket, and first class isn't available on a United flight, they'll refund the fare difference for economy; they USED to agree to put you on a competitor's flight in first class if that's all that was available]


    D) IN THE EVENT PASSENGER DECLINES ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION OFFERED UNDER (1)(B) ABOVE, UA SHALL REFUND THE FLIGHT COUPON(S) FOR THE UNFLOWN PORTION(S) IN ACCORDANCE WITH RULE 260 (REFUNDS-INVOLUNTARY).
    EXCEPTION 1: UA SHALL HAVE NO OBLIGATION TO HONOR ANOTHER CARRIER'S TICKET WHICH DOES NOT REFLECT A CONFIRMED RESERVATION ON UA, UNLESS THE ISSUING CARRIER REISSUES THE TICKET FOR ANY CHANGES IN ROUTING. IN THE EVENT SUCH CARRIER IS NOT AVAILABLE TO DO SO, UA RESERVES THE RIGHT TO REROUTE PASSENGERS ONLY OVER ITS OWN LINES BETWEEN THE POINTS NAMED ON THE ORIGINAL TICKET.
    EXCEPTION 2: PASSENGERS HOLDING TICKETS FOR ANOTHER CARRIER PURCHASED AT DE21/DE21E/ DE22/FE30/FE32 FARES (OR SIMILAR DISCOUNTED FARES WHICH PROVIDE FOR TRAVEL ON FIRST CLASS SERVICE) WILL BE ACCEPTED ON UA FIRST CLASS SERVICE UPON PAYMENT OF ADDITIONAL FARE TO THE LEVEL OF UA'S NORMAL ONE-WAY FIRST CLASS FARES.
    2) UNITED WILL, IN A TIMELY MANNER, GIVE ALL CUSTOMERS THE BEST AVAILABLE INFORMATION REGARDING KNOWN DELAYS, CANCELLATIONS AND DIVERSIONS INVOLVING THEIR FLIGHT.


    D) SCHEDULE CHANGES IN THE EVENT OF A SCHEDULE CHANGE OF A UA FLIGHT ON WHICH A PASSENGER
    HOLDS A TICKET INDICATING A CONFIRMED RESERVATION, UA WILL: 1) OFFER TO TRANSPORT THE PASSENGER OVER ITS OWN LINES IN THE SAME CABIN AS THE PASSENGER WAS ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED TO TRAVEL TO THE DESTINATION, THE NEXT STOPOVER POINT LISTED ON THE TICKET, OR THE TRANSFER POINT SHOWN ON ITS PORTION OF THE TICKET WITHOUT STOPOVER, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO THE PASSENGER, OR 2) AT UNITED’S DISCRETION, ARRANGE FOR THE TRANSPORTATION ON ANOTHER CARRIER OR COMBINATION OF CARRIERS WITH WHOM UA HAS AGREEMENTS FOR SUCH TRANSPORTATION; THE PASSENGER WILL BE TRANSPORTED WITHOUT STOPOVER ON ITS (THEIR) NEXT FLIGHT(S), IN THE SAME CLASS OF SERVICE AS THE PASSENGER’S ORIGINAL OUTBOUND FLIGHT AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO THE PASSENGER; OR 3) IN THE EVENT THE PASSENGER DECLINES ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION OFFERED UNDER (1) OR (2) ABOVE, REFUND IN ACCORDANCE WITH RULE 260 (REFUNDS-INVOLUNTARY).


    E) IN THE EVENT THAT UA CHANGES THE TIME OF DEPARTURE OR ROUTING OF A FLIGHT IN A MANNER THAT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A SCHEDULE CHANGE AS DEFINED HEREIN, WHETHER OR NOT THE SAME FLIGHT NUMBER IS RETAINED, UA WILL TRANSPORT THE PASSENGER ON THE RESCHEDULED FLIGHT AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO THE PASSENGER.


    (*) F) AMENITIES/SERVICES FOR DELAYED PASSENGERS (NOT APPLICABLE TO STANDBY FARES.)
    1) LODGING PASSENGERS WILL BE PROVIDED ONE NIGHT'S LODGING, OR A MAXIMUM ALLOWANCE FOR ONE NIGHT'S LODGING AS ESTABLISHED BY EACH LOCATION, WHEN A UA FLIGHT ON WHICH THE PASSENGER IS BEING TRANSPORTED IS DIVERTED TO AN UNSCHEDULED POINT, AND THE DELAY AT SUCH POINT IS EXPECTED TO EXCEED FOUR HOURS DURING THE PERIOD 10:00 P.M. TO 6:00 A.M. EXCEPTION: HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS WILL NOT BE FURNISHED:
    A) TO A PASSENGER WHOSE TRIP IS INTERRUPTED AT A CITY WHICH IS HIS/HER ORIGIN POINT, STOPOVER POINT, CONNECTING POINT, OR PERMANENT DOMICILE, OR
    B) WHEN THE DESTINATION DESIGNATED AND THE FLIGHT ON WHICH THE PASSENGER IS BEING ON THE PASSENGER TICKET IS: TRANSPORTED IS COLUMN 1 BALTIMORE, MD BALTIMORE, MD CHICAGO, IL CHICAGO, IL (ORD AIRPORT) CHICAGO, IL (ORD AIRPORT) LONG BEACH, CA LONG BEACH, CA LOS ANGELES, CA MIAMI, FL NEWARK, NJ NEWARK, NJ NEW YORK, NY (JFK AIRPORT) SAN FRANCISCO, CA
    WASHINGTON, DC (IAD AIRPORT)
    DIVERTED TO: (OR VICE VERSA) COLUMN 2 WASHINGTON, DC (IAD AIRPORT) WASHINGTON, DC (DCA AIRPORT) MILWAUKEE, WI
    CHICAGO, IL (MDW AIRPORT) CHICAGO, IL (CHICAGO RFD AIRPORT) LOS ANGELES, CA ONTARIO, CA ONTARIO, CA FT. LAUDERDALE, FL NEW YORK, NY (JFK AIRPORT) NEW YORK, NY (LGA AIRPORT) NEW YORK, NY (LGA AIRPORT) OAKLAND, CA SAN FRANCISCO, CA SAN JOSE, CA WASHINGTON, DC (DCA AIRPORT)
    2) GROUND TRANSPORTATION WHEN THE DESTINATION DESIGNATED ON THE PASSENGER'S TICKET IS A POINT SHOWN IN 1) B) COLUMN 1, AND THE FLIGHT ON WHICH THE PASSENGER IS BEING TRANSPORTED IS DIVERTED TO A POINT SHOWN IN 1) B) COLUMN 2, UA WILL PROVIDE GROUND TRANSPORTATION TO THE ORIGINAL DESTINATION AIRPORT.
    3) EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES UA WILL PROVIDE SUCH AMENITIES AS ARE NECESSARY TO MAINTAIN THE SAFETY AND/OR WELFARE OF CERTAIN PASSENGERS SUCH AS INVALIDS, UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN, THE ELDERLY OR OTHERS TO WHOM SUCH AMENITIES WILL BE FURNISHED CONSISTENT WITH SPECIAL NEEDS AND/OR CIRCUMSTANCES. IN ADDITION, WHERE EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES RESULT IN THE EXTENDED DELAY OF AN AIRCRAFT ON THE GROUND WITHOUT ACCESS TO THE TERMINAL, WHETHER PRIOR TO DEPARTURE OR AFTER LANDING, UNITED WILL MAKE EVERY REASONABLE EFFORT, IN ACCORDANCE WITH AN ESTABLISHED CONTINGENCY PLAN, TO ENSURE THAT ITS PASSENGERS ARE FACILITIES, AND ACCESS TO MEDICAL AND EMPLOYEE SAFETY AND SECURITY.

    4) REMEDIES THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE REMEDY FOR THIS RULE (RULE 240UA) SHALL BE THE EXPRESS AMENITIES PROVIDED IN THE RULE. THE PASSENGER SHALL HAVE NO OTHER CLAIMS OF LAW OR EQUITY FOR ACTUAL, COMPENSATORY OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES.


    G) CARRIER IN DEFAULT
    NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISIONS OF THIS RULE, UA WILL NOT ACCEPT FOR ANY PURPOSES UNDER THIS RULE PASSENGER TICKETS OR RELATED TRANSPORTATION DOCUMENTS ISSUED BY ANY CARRIER WHICH IS IN SUBSTANTIAL DEFAULT OF ITS INTERLINE OBLIGATIONS OR WHICH VOLUNTARILY OR INVOLUNTARILY HAS BECOME THE SUBJECT OF BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS (THE "DEFAULTING CARRIER"). EXCEPTION: NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISIONS OF THIS PARAGRAPH, TICKETS ISSUED BY THE DEFAULTING CARRIER OR ITS SALES AGENT PRIOR TO THE DEFAULT, WILL BE ACCEPTED SOLELY FOR TRANSPORTATION OVER THE LINES OF UA, PROVIDED SUCH TICKETS WERE ISSUED BY SUCH DEFAULTING CARRIER IN ITS CAPACITY AS AGENT FOR UA AND SPECIFIED TRANSPORTATION VIA UA. WHEN TICKETS ARE ACCEPTED, NO ADJUSTMENTS IN FARE WILL BE MADE WHICH WOULD REQUIRE UA TO REFUND MONEY TO THE PASSENGER.


    H) LIABILITY OF CARRIER EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT PROVIDED IN THIS RULE, UA SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR FAILING TO OPERATE ANY FLIGHT ACCORDING TO SCHEDULE, OR FOR CHANGING THE SCHEDULE OF ANY FLIGHT, WITH OR WITHOUT NOTICE TO THE PASSENGER.


    I) IN THE EVENT OF A STRIKE OR WORK STOPPAGE WHICH CAUSES ANY CANCELLATION OR SUSPENSION OF OPERATIONS OF ANY OTHER CARRIER, THE PROVISIONS OF THIS RULE WILL NOT APPLY WITH RESPECT TO PASSENGERS HOLDING TICKETS FOR TRANSPORTATION ON THAT CARRIER.

    [Airfarewatchdog.com note: here's the kicker, however: if the delay or cancellation was out of United's control, all bets are off]:
    UA MAY, IN THE EVENT OF A FORCE MAJEURE EVENT, WITHOUT NOTICE, CANCEL, TERMINATE, DIVERT, POSTPONE, OR DELAY ANY FLIGHT OR THE RIGHT OF CARRIAGE OR RESERVATION OF TRAFFIC ACCOMMODATIONS AND DETERMINED IF ANY DEPARTURE OR LANDING SHOULD BE MADE, WITHOUT ANY LIABILITY EXCEPT TO REFUND IN ACCORDANCE WITH RULE 260 UA (REFUNDS INVOLUNTARY) ANY UNUSED PORTION OF THE TICKET. AS USED IN THIS RULE "FORCE MAJEURE EVENT" MEANS:


    1) ANY CONDITION BEYOND UA'S CONTROL (INCLUDING, BUT WITHOUT LIMITATION, METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS, ACTS OF GOD, RIOTS, CIVIL COMMOTION, EMBARGOES, WARS, HOSTILITIES, DISTURBANCES, OR UNSETTLED INTERNATIONAL CONDITIONS), ACTUAL, THREATENED OR REPORTED OR BECAUSE OF ANY DELAY, DEMAND CIRCUMSTANCES OR REQUIREMENT DUE, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, TO SUCH CONDITIONS OR
    2) ANY STRIKE WORK STOPPAGE, SLOWDOWN, LOCKOUT OR ANY OTHER LABOR RELATED DISPUTE INVOLVING OR AFFECTING UA'S SERVICE OR:
    3) ANY GOVERNMENT REGULATION, DEMAND, OR REQUIREMENT OR 4) ANY SHORTAGE OF LABOR, FUEL OR FACILITIES OF UA OR OTHERS, OR 5) ANY FACT NOT REASONABLY FORESEEN, ANTICIPATED, OR PREDICTED.
    K) THE PROVISION OF SERVICES IN ADDITION TO THOSE SPECIFICALLY SET FORTH IN THIS RULE TO ALL OR SOME PASSENGERS SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED AS A WAIVER OF UA'S RIGHTS. NEITHER SHALL ANY DELAY ON THE PART OF UA IN EXERCISING OR ENFORCING ITS RIGHTS UNDER THIS RULE BE CONSTRUED AS A WAIVER OF SUCH RIGHTS.

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