Nov 16, 2005

Rule 240

Last year my December 24 flight home was cancelled while I stood in a 4 hour line to the check-in booth. When I finally reached the desk, the woman told me that there was nothing she could do and the soonest I could be rebooked would be December 27. I'm not particularly religious, but I do enjoy celebrating Christmas with my family, so this news devastated me. Through tears I begged the woman to look at other airlines. She refused to do so, citing she had done it for everyone and there was nothing available.

A quick phone call home and Rick was on the case. He found a JetBlue flight to Ft. Lauderdale leaving out of Dulles in 2 hours (I was currently at National). He booked it for me and I made my way out there and was home in time for Santa. I later tried to get Delta to both refund my original ticket for cancellation and to cover the cost of the JetBlue flight (a reasonable $200). I invoked Rule 240 but only received a refund for the original cancelled flight.

For all of you preparing to travel this holiday season, this here's an excellent article about what to do if you get bumped, canceled, or delayed in the unpredictable airline game.

What does an airline owe you if you're delayed? The short answer: nothing. However, if you do luck into a reservation elsewhere, ask your original carrier to endorse your ticket to your new airline at the same fare. If necessary, you may remind the agent of Rule 240. This regulation, dating from the days when the federal government controlled the airlines, requires that carriers put you on the next flight out -- on a competitor and in an upgraded class, if necessary -- in the event of a canceled flight or a prolonged delay; it has now been integrated, in various ways, into carriers' contracts of carriage.

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