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Southwest Airlines Addresses Misinterpretation Regarding Contract of Carriage

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Some of you may have noticed recent news stories regarding a minor change that we made to our Contract of Carriage(CoC) verbiage, regarding Force Majeure Events. Unfortunately, early news coverage misinterpreted the language of the revision and led to quite a bit of confusion for our Customers. Southwest has never defined Force Majeure Events in our CoC, so the verbiage is brand new, though the practice is not. In general, a Force Majeure Event refers to something that is outside of our control. We included "mechanical difficulties" as part of our Force Majeure list – referring to events such as airport mechanical difficulties (e.g., the airport de-icing system breaks) or Air Traffic Control issues (e.g., airport or regional tower goes down). We are not referring to our own aircraft maintenance difficulties, which would clearly be under our control.

We also included events that we consider an "act of God" (meteorological events) under Force Majeure in our new CoC verbiage. Although we consider both items (third-party mechanical difficulties and meteorological happenings) Force Majeure events, we do not consider any type of mechanical difficulty an "act of God".  Although we understand the confusion, these are actually separate items in the CoC verbiage.
 
The important message for Customers is none of our procedures have changed. We still accommodate you exactly the same as we did prior to adding the verbiage.
 
That being said, we heard you! We realize our newest CoC addition could use clarification, so we made a few tweaks to help it read more clearly:
 
Force Majeure Event:  Whenever advisable due to Force Majeure Events outside of Carrier’s control, including, without limitation acts of God, meteorological events, such as storms, rain, wind, fire, fog, flooding, earthquakes, haze, or volcanic eruption.  It also includes, without limitation, government action, disturbances or potentially volatile  international conditions, civil commotions, riots, embargoes, wars, or hostilities, whether actual, threatened, or reported, strikes, work stoppage, slowdown, lockout or any other labor related dispute involving or affecting Carrier’s service, mechanical difficulties by entities other than Carrier, Air Traffic Control, the inability to obtain fuel, airport gates or landing facilities for the flight in question or any fact not reasonably foreseen, anticipated or predicted by Carrier.  You can read the full contract of carriage here: http://www.southwest.com/travel_center/coc.pdf
 
We hope that helps clear things up!  As always, thanks for your comments and questions!

5 Comments

  1. I used to love SW. I flew 7 RT flights last year. But now I hate you. I tried to get out of Denver today to beat the blizzard arriving tomorrow only to be told THREE HOURS before the departure time that the flight was cancelled due to weather. Weather in Denver was clear and 38, weather in Chicago was clear and 40. If you want to use the planes to fly to the east coast to clear up your backlog, you should not screw the passengers with reservations who happen to be in the way. Shame on you. I am cancelling all my future reservations.

  2. Sorry, Brian, but that isn’t what your CoC has said. I challenge you to produce a version that was released to the public since 2000 that includes that text and dated prior to the July 2010 revisions.

  3. Anonymous 15:29, Actually that isn’t a revision. Our Contract of Carriage has always held that funds were nontransferrable. We are just enforcing it now.

  4. Are you planning on explaining the other “change” regarding ticketless travel funds? It is my understanding that starting early next year unused TTF amounts will only be allowed to be used for future travel for the named passenger on the funds. For someone who books (and pays) for family members, this change is not customer friendly.

  5. As I recall you guys used to have a feature on your website that showed the revision history for your contract. Whatever happened to that?