Rule 240

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Rule 240 is a clause that refers to actions airlines will take in the event of delays caused by airlines. Although Rule 240 was largely discontinued when the American airline industry was deregulated in the 1970s, most passengers generally recognize Rule 240 as an unwritten law; additionally, airlines concede they are duty-bound to honor it in one form or another. Rule 240 is said to apply to territories within the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Although rule 240 is widely believed to be obsolete, many airlines have filed “conditions of carriage” with the U.S. Department of Transportation stating similarly worded conditions. Each airline has its own set of conditions, and generally the conditions apply only to delays that are caused by the airline. The condition does not cover “force majeure” events such as strikes, “acts of God” or bad weather.

Rule 240 states that travelers who are delayed will receive airline compensation, free meal vouchers, a hotel room, a booking on another flight, or be given a refund.

What you need to know?

Every airline has its own version of Rule 240, and it can be called by many names. So long as there is a contract (such as contract of carriage or conditions of carriage) that explicitly mentions your rights and privileges as a passenger, you are protected under some version of Rule 240. Print your airline contract before your flight and read it closely; further, refer to it in the event you notice something not quite right.

In addition to Rule 240, there are many other elements of the contract you need to understand. As an airline passenger you need to know everything from when you are supposed to get a refund to what the airline owes you when if your flight is scratched. Some airlines do not hand out contracts, and if this is the case you can request a copy of the contract at the airline’s ticket counter.
Rule 240 changes occasionally, as airlines revise their contracts frequently and often without making it public knowledge. Airlines are able to do this because there is no government agency that monitors the content of these contracts.

Many people confuse Rule 240 with airlines’ “Customer First” pledges, although they are not one and the same. Customers First is a body of regulations adopted by airlines to skirt government regulation. However, airline contracts do contain details concerning how to inform passengers in cases of delay and canceled flights. The contract also includes airline policies regarding accommodating passengers with special needs and disabilities, handling denied passengers, and overbooking.

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