After taking quite a beating in the press (including here), Southwest gave up on trying to use their PR machine to convince the world that we were all misinterpreting their Contract of Carriage. They finally got the lawyers to actually fix it.
The latest version of the CoC – updated 28 July 2010 – now reflects the following in their definitions section:
Force Majeure Event means any event 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, labor, or landing facilities for the flight in question or any fact not reasonably foreseen, anticipated or predicted by Carrier.
The line about mechanical failures has changed from “mechanical difficulties” to “mechanical difficulties by entities other than Carrier.” Just a couple words but they make all the difference when it comes to actually doing right by the customer.
It is worth noting that Southwest is still the only carrier that has such a clause in their CoC but at least now it isn’t quite so badly stacked against the customer. They did not relent on their decision to restrict travel funds, but such a change was not expected as they are doing what they can to increase revenue and close loopholes in their policies.
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