A definitive look at the airlines’ rule 240

Our good friend over at Airfare Watchdog, George Hobica, rolled up his sleeves this past week and dug deep into the muck of rule 240, the near-mythical term dictating how an airline needs to treat you in the case of a cancellation or misconnection. It’s kind of a tricky rule to wrap your head around, so I’ll let George explain it for you here:

“Rule 240 originally stated that in the event of a cancellation or flight misconnection, the airline would have to put you on their next flight out, or, if that wasn’t “acceptable,” on the next flight out of a competing airline if that flight would get you to your destination sooner, all at no additional cost to you. If only first class was available on the other airline, then they had to upgrade you. This only applied in circumstances under the airlines’ control, such as crew failing to show up, or mechanical problems.”

Back in the day each airline had one of these rule 240’s, but since deregulation in the industry many have stricken this rule from their operations. Each carrier, however, now has some derivative, which is where Airfarewatchdog came in and compared the differences.

It’s a handy guide if you ever get marooned by the airlines on the road and need to leverage a trip back. But a word of warning from a frequent traveler if you want to invoke rule 240 or some manifestation thereof: make sure you do your homework, know your airline, its rules and how they can apply them – you need to stay on the offensive if you’re going to get what the carriers have promised you.

Grab a scotch, take a deep breath and start reading the rules per airline over at Airfarewatchdog.com here.