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!