Here’s an interesting exercise. Take a random airline contract of carriage from a few years ago — say, US Airways’ 2003 contract — and compare it to the current, post-merger legal agreement between the carrier and you. Notice any differences? (There’s an easy way to do that: just copy both documents into Microsoft Word and merge them.) Oh boy, check that out.
It turns out airlines like US Airways have been quietly “updating” their terms, and not always in ways that would benefit customers. Among the changes:
No more freebie cancellations. Under the Customer Commitment/Customers First section, US Airways has changed its policy from allowing the customer to cancel a reservation within 24 hours to a policy that allows the fare to be held, without purchase, for 24 hours.
No more O2. The old policy allowed in-flight supplemental oxygen, for a fee. Now, only portable oxygen concentrators are allowed in the cabin.
No stopovers for the kiddies. Unaccompanied minors are now only accepted on non-stop flights.
Canada? Mexico? What’s the difference? For purposes of voluntary denied boarding compensation, Canada has been placed in the same category as Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. The old US Airways treated Canada as part of the U.S., at least where the rules were concerned.
Lighten your load. The free baggage allowance changed from a maximum of 70 pounds to 50 pounds.
No more kitties in cargo. Animals are no longer accepted in cargo — period. That includes service animals that are too big to fit in the cabin. I’m told by an airline insider that this may be a violation of Transportation Department regulations.
What to make of this? I think we need to keep better track of these revisions. Last time I checked, airlines had to file contract changes with the Department of Transportation. The government should report every contract amendment to the public. And if it doesn’t, the blogging community should find a way to disseminate the changes.
I’d be interested in setting up a database of airline contracts that tracks the revisions — is anyone else game?