Q. I purchased a first class ticket from Denver to Anchorage on US Airways via Phoenix. After nearly 3 hours on the plane in Anchorage the flight was canceled due to mechanical problems. US Airways called me within 5 minutes to rebook. They rebooked me on Continental and United flights the next day. I asked if I was rebooked in First Class and she said no, because of Rule 240 I am only given a coach ticket. I ended up being upgraded by Continental because of my 1K status with United. My question is, what type of compensation, if any should I expect. Is this a normal practice?
A. First, I'm really surprised that you get rebooked at all, because many airlines have done away with or weakened the rule 240 in their contract of carriage. But it's great that you were reaccommodated. However, you are definitely entitled to any fare difference between first class and economy and that should come from US Air, assuming that you paid for your first class ticket rather than having been upgraded or used miles.
Years ago, it was indeed a normal practice to Rule 240 passengers in the event of a flight irregularity, In fact it was a government regulation. But now only a few airlines have a clearly stated Rule 240 in their contracts. You might find this article helpful.