No More "Rule 240" For American Airlines

Reader Tom writes in to let us know that American Airlines will no longer rebook you on another airline in the event of a delay or cancellation. He attempted to lay the old “Rule 240” on them and was told that Rule 240 had been changed to “Rule 18″… whatever that is.

(The old “Rule 240” was from the Civil Aeronautics Board, and stated that in the event of a delay, an airline had an obligation to rebook you on the next flight to your destination… not just their next flight. )

From American’s Conditions of Carriage:


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.


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.

Keep in mind, “Rule 240” isn’t an actual rule anymore… but rumor has it some old legacy airlines (not American, obviously) will still “Rule 240” you if you ask really, really nicely.



Edit Your Comment

  1. hills says:

    So, is “Rule 18” code for “go f*** yourself”?!

  2. humphrmi says:

    I like that last part. You can starve to death or have kidney failure because you’re stuck on a plane with no bathrooms and water, and they’re not responsible. This is the plan that they say means the government does not need to get involved and provide a pax bill of rights.

    Tell your legislators this is BS, and you want them to require minimal protection under the law.

  3. raehtz10 says:

    I flew on United and there were delays in Chicago. I got them to rebook me on a direct Northworst flight because I was probably going to miss my connection. No questions asked, and it became point to point.

  4. jblake1 says:

    I feel sorry for people who live in hub cities where you are more likely to encounter this rule being enforced. At my mid sized airport we are more than happy to reroute passengers on other airlines when there is a delay or cancellation. Airport agents do want passengers in the airport and in front of their face any longer than necessary. A delayed passenger = an unhappy passenger and that only adds to the stress of the job.

  5. snoop-blog says:

    i like rule 420.

  6. Ashcan says:

    Rule 240 has been dead for about 30 years. The FAA allows each airline to set its own “conditions of carriage”, which means the airline sets its own rules of what you can expect from the company if it bumps you or cancels your flight. Basically, the airline industry now gets to make their own rules on how they will treat (or mistreat) you.

  7. nemesiscw says:

    And that’s why I’ll take my business elsewhere even if it does set me back an extra $20 or so.

  8. econobiker says:

    But have they updated requirements for claims to be processed through arbitration yet?

  9. Neurotic1 says:

    Rule 240 is NOT something you can go directly to another airline and ask for. The carrier you’re ticketed on has to rebook you directly and that’s if your carrier has a reciprocal agreement already established. For instance, Southwest does not have any agreements with any carriers, so if one is ticketed on them, you’re sol.

    Also, rule 240 is not a law, nor even a rule. It is simply an agreement between certain carriers. The “rule” is a carry-over from the regulation years in the industry.

  10. MalcoveMagnesia says:

    UAL cancelled my flight from San Francisco to Austin a few months ago. The next flight on UAL I could take wasn’t going to get me there until the next day, so the agent cheerfully rebooked me on my carrier of choice, Continental. I was able to claim frequent flyer mileage on both the cancelled flight AND the rebooked flight.

    Thanks UAL.

    (caveat: probably one of the only times I’ve had a pleasant experience with United at their zoo-a.k.a.-“hub” at SFO)

  11. MercuryPDX says:

    @snoop-blog: For rizzle!

    The only thing I question is the wording:
    In the case of extraordinary events…
    With delays so common (read: ordinary), what would qualify as “extraordinary” (read: never or rarely)?

    …that result in very lengthy onboard delays
    At what point is it considered lengthy? 1 Hour? 2? 4? Who decides what qualifies as lengthy?

  12. 92BuickLeSabre says:

    Oh sweet, sweet deregulation, you miracle worker you.

  13. Pastorerik says:

    If you’re on an international flight, the airlines do have to rebook you on the next available flight on any carrier, and they’re liable for any consequential damages if they don’t. See the Montreal Convention.


  14. ColoradoShark says:

    And how much did “Nutri-Grain®” pay to be mentioned by name in their rules. That’s just extra weird. Do you get to complain extra if they substitute generic?

  15. bukz68 says:

    I understand that being in the air travel business is somewhat of a different beast than many of the other service industries (food, electronics, etc.) but why do I get the impression that these airlines are becoming more and more and MORE customer unfriendly? These people want us to shed a tear every time they go backrupt but up until that point they’ll do everything the can to get your dollar, then not much more to make you feel like you’re actually getting something adequate in return. I understand that flying is a stressful activity for a lot of people and that it’d be impossible to please everyone but these days it seems that ANY positive experiences are few and far between.

  16. crimsonwhat says:

    I thought that Rule 240 was obsolete, and had been for quite sometime.
    I just read an article on travel myths and urban legends, and rule 240 was one of them.
    Rule 240 was done away with by, I thought, all airlines.

  17. CRSmith says:

    [] is the current (Jan 31 2008)link to American Airlines’
    Reaccommodations – Rule 240/80 – I guess it still exists.

  18. BlondeGrlz says:

    @ColoradoShark: That is exactly what I thought. What, we don’t get Dasini water, Snyder’s pretzels, Chex mix and M&M’s? Those brands didn’t pay you enough?

  19. pylon83 says:

    Can you cite the particular clause of the Montreal Convention that says that?

  20. Do_They_Get_It says:

    You know…I can honestly say, the airlines have jumped through hoops for me especially recently. Perhaps it is because it isn’t a normal travel from point A to B scenerio that has put me and my family in these situations.

    For instance, my father was admitted for his 3rd heart attack and not doing well, I booked first flight available, made the 3 hour drive to airport. When arrived, they had more bad news awaiting me…my maternal grandfather was dying in another state. They were awaiting me to see what travel plans I needed to adjust and had other representatives from other airlines there just in case.

    The other is when unaccompanied minor was facing flight delays due to weather (not even in city flying to) and they knew he was going to miss his connection. They gave me all the options, including differing airlines and connecting cities as well as weather reports so I could make an informed decision.

    Yes, I have been snowed in Denver Airport with no winter coat, but even then…they did try before resorting to the vouchers.

  21. You’re not making me feel entirely confident about the two American Airlines flights I’m going to be taking this Sunday, and again next Friday.

  22. JerseyJarhead says:

    Please JOIN the Coalition for an Airline Passenger’s Bill of Rights!

  23. eldergias says:

    Government DOT website: []
    Section 3: Delayed and Canceled Flights

    -There are no laws requiring compensation for delayed or canceled flights.

    Section 4: Overbooking

    -airlines are supposed to rebook you on their planes or another airlines to get you to your destination in a hour or less than your original planed arrival time

    -If you arrive between 1-2 hours after the scheduled time you get the cost of a one way ticket (up to $200)

    -If you arrive after 2 hours after the scheduled time you get the cost of a one way ticket (up to $400)

    -The airlines pays every single penny for this, you pay nothing, and you get to keep your original ticket to use some other day.

    -If you have to stay overnight the airlines has to pay for hotels, meals, transportation, ect.

    Pretty black and white: delay or cancellation means you are screwed, bumping means the airlines pays through the nose.

    IATA and ATA also have mandatory regulations for their trade association members which have similar rules that are even more specific and make it mandatory that the airlines book you on another flight, even if another airlines, even if it is first class, at no cost, but I am tired and don’t feel like typing it all out right now. Believe me or not, your choice.

  24. Divested says:

    I had a good 5 graph rant going, but it was unexpectedly deleted before my eyes, mr.bowler is sneaky like that.

    Points to be known here.

    First priority when re-booking.

    They will try their hardest to keep you on their airline or sister/subsidiary (not do be confused w/ code-share) airline within 4 hours of a cancellation.

    If that is not applicable, they will put you on an OA (Other Airline) that is a member of their code-share, meaning they get a percentage of that ticket.

    An agent can and will rebook you on an OA if it is possible, meaning they have to call their operations dept. to have them call the OA’s operations dept to get approval to sell seats on a specific flight. Once that is done and everything is set, seats have been cleared, they can lift your ticket and transfer you over to an OA, thru an involuntary reroute.

    Here is a big, BIG, MAJOR FUCKING PROBLEM w/ rerouting PAX onto OA’s, some agents will do so w/o going thru the proper channels ending up in total fuckery when you the pax get’s to the OA’s gate and they have no record of you or anyway to look you up cuz the agent just sent you over w/o transferring, or transfered you over w/o getting clearance: I have seen this done by one airline more than any and that is UA which is not surprising seeing that their hiring practices are way out of whack these days and all you need is a 10th grade education to get hired…and it shows oh does it show.

    end rant.