Frequent air travel is a fact of life for many small business owners.
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But endless delays, cancelled flights, and missed connections can quickly distract you from the reason you needed to go out of town in the first place. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a magic word that could make all your travel problems simply disappear?
You may find it hard to believe, but there actually is a phrase that can alleviate many of your travel headaches. It's called Rule 240 and by referencing it in a conversation with a customer service representative, there's a good chance your airline will go out of their way to accommodate your needs.
Rule 240 is holdover from the period before airline deregulation. Prior to 1978, the federal government required airlines to adhere to a set of policies describing how they dealt with late or stranded passengers as a result of delays caused by the airline itself. Today, airlines are no longer required to adhere to Rule 240. However, all of the major airlines have filed "conditions of carriage" with the U.S. Department of Transportation and agreed to observe their airline's Rule 240 provisions. In other words, even though Rule 240 is no longer a federal mandate, the airlines have voluntarily agreed to abide their Rule 240 provisions through a formal filing with the U.S. government.
Although any traveler can take advantage of Rule 240, don't count on the airline to volunteer Rule 240 provisions by themselves. The airline industry is a dog-eat-dog world, so it's your responsibility to know your rights and invoke Rule 240 when applicable.
Carry a copy of your airline's Rule 240 when you travel.
The Department of Transportation requires airlines to provide passengers with a copy of their Rule 240 provisions upon request. Not surprisingly, most ticket counters couldn't find a copy of their own Rule 240 if their life depended on it. That means you will need to contact the airline in advance to obtain a copy of their Rule 240 and bring it with you to the airport. If something goes awry with your travel arrangements, airline personnel are more inclined to listen if you reference their Rule 240 provisions and can provide a printed copy to back up your argument.
Know what you're talking about.
If you know the airline's Rule 240 inside and out, you're probably a step ahead of the airline's ticket agents. Many ticket agents are unaware of their company's Rule 240 provisions and quickly yield to passengers who seem to have more information than they do. The key is to make sure you actually are the most informed person in the room. Remember: Rule 240 provides remedies for delays and cancellations that occur as a result of the airline's actions. It does not cover delays associated with weather or anything else that is outside of the airline's immediate control.
Stick to your guns.
Simply referring to Rule 240 and producing a printed copy is enough to get what you want from most ticket agents. However, if the ticket agent continues to give you a hard time, stick with it until you find someone from the airline who is familiar with Rule 240 provisions and is willing to accommodate your travel needs.