So last week I was actually home for a few days and I wanted to have lunch, locally, with some friends from the office. Ever the jokester, my friend Cordell was the first to reply to the group chat lunch invitation via a Text Message with one word in it, “Shotgun!” Yes, he called “shotgun” via an instant message. Welcome to 2008. As a kid, I used to “Call” all kinds of stuff. “No hits,” “No Punching,” “No Keepsies,” you name it, we called it. One time in 4th grade, my friend Robbie hollered out “I call no snakes” as we made our way closer to the swamps of Slidell, Louisiana at recess. I wonder if the snakes heard that.
Seasoned travelers have probably heard of “Rule 240.” I know I have. The myth behind this rule is that airlines will cower before you whenever you invoke it after they’ve abused you in some way. The same way a shout of “Shazam” from Captain Marvel would bring forth a litany of super powers, grasping your PDA with your laptop tucked under your arm and shouting, “I call upon the powers of Rule 240” is supposed to let the airlines know that you’re not messing around and that you will reap your ultimate revenge, etc.
The truth behind Rule 240 is probably more complex than the myth. Years ago (prior to 1978), the Federal Government mandated a rule (Rule 240) that said that in the event of a delay that is the fault of your airline, your airline would have to transfer you to another airline to get you to your destination if 1) the other could get you there faster, and 2) they had seats available. It also said that your original airline would cover your expenses during “any delay you incurred. That’s the part that is so fantastic! There are tails aplenty about airlines paying for everything from socks and toothpaste to gourmet meals and suits and ties all because some savvy business traveler invoked Rule 240.
Today, Rule 240 is still in play but it exists as a shell of its former self. The airlines were successful in avoided government re-regulation and even though Rule 240 is in the contract somewhere, it exists as a ghost that manifests itself under government audit or scrutiny. Some airlines have even renamed it! You’ll see it as mysterious “Rule 18” or at Continental Airlines where they’ve removed the trailing zero you’ll see it as “Rule 24!”
At any rate, if you want to know more (and I suggest you definitely read into this one), check out this great article at CNN that sums up the details rather well. You’ll certainly want to know everything that the airlines want to hide from you, especially since this rule allows them to call, “Keepsies, NO Refunds!”
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please send an email! Your questions will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the Expert podcast show.