Last week, travel consumer advocate Christopher Elliott listed four secrets about rule 240—that borderline mythic rule that describes how an airline will behave regarding a canceled or delayed flight—that he says are too often overlooked by travel experts and regular folk:”It’s hardly an all-powerful provision that can be invoked by every stranded passenger. Somewhere between myth and a magic bullet lies the truth about Rule 240.”
1. “Every airline has a rule ‘240’ — but not every airline calls it Rule 240”
Elliott points out that depending on the contract, the section that describes any conditions of carriage can go by other names or numbers. He suggests printing the full contract before you travel, and if you have to talk about rule 240, don’t call it “Rule 240″—”Instead, politely refer to your contract of carriage or conditions of carriage if you need to argue for compensation.”
2. “Rule 240 is just one part of a contract that you really ought to read”
There are other rights you may have that the contract spells out, but that the airline will never mention. It actually helps them if you are simply obsessed with Rule 240.
3. “Rule 240 is subject to change without notice”
Don’t assume things haven’t changed since your last flight.
4. “A better name for Rule 240 is ‘Customers Last'”
A lot of people think rule 240 is part of the industry’s “Customers First” program to improve customer service, but it’s not: “‘Customer First’ is what the airlines promise (but don’t do) while Rule 240 is what the airlines must do (but often don’t). It is really the ‘Customers Last’ clause. (Check out his full post for interesting background information on “Customers First” and how the airline industry has failed to honor it over the years.)
To summarize: read the effin’ contract. Read it all, maybe highlight the parts about your rights, and carry it with you when you travel.
“Myth or magic bullet? 4 secrets about Rule 240” [Elliott.org]