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Conditions of Carriage

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  • Conditions of Carriage

    Several threads have brought up the issue of whether airlines have any definite obligation to the passenger. Some people seem to have the opinion that there is no effective legal obligation of airline companies to deliver the service described in its public information for routes and ticket sales. And it seems to be true that international conventions have tried to make the obligations finite. But in language for flights I have taken, the airline used less extreme language than what I've seen here.

    For example:

    Carrier undertakes to use its best efforts to carry the passenger and baggage with reasonable dispatch. Times shown in timetables or elsewhere are not guaranteed and form no part of this contract. Carrier may without notice substitute alternate carriers or aircraft, and may alter or omit stopping places shown on the ticket in case of necessity
    What I read from this is a commitment to use all reasonable means to perform as advertised. Of course, I realize air transportation operates in conditions that preclude a 100 percent guarantee. But any failure to perform is subject to a test of reasonability. I'm quite sure a plaintiff can win if the airline has made arbitrary or purely selfish changes.

    And that I can accept. For sure, with air traffic control preventing landing at a destination, the airline can't take off until assured of landing at the other end. But its silly to me to say an airline can sell you a ticket to New York and drop you at Buffalo when a landing at New York was entirely possible. That would be thumbing their nose, and like any other business, they operate under the law of public good will. Piss the consuming public off and you end up being taken over by a better-run company.