Are The Skies As Friendly As You Think They Are?

When you purchase a plane ticket, you are buying more than just leg room.

As United Airlines scrambled to clear its name and stem the bleeding of bad PR, other airlines are tightening up their policies to make sure they are not the next nightly news story.

As social media continues to buzz with pictures and memes, the spotlight has been placed squarely on the airlines’ “terms and conditions.”

These “terms and conditions” are known in the legal world as contracts of carriage. They are rarely ever heard about and even less often read. Most airline passengers, if asked, would probably have no idea they even existed. However, they certainly do. The long and detailed conditions can be found on every airline’s website.

Listed here are a few of the more unknown and most overlooked rules passengers agree to when purchasing a ticket, and therefore enter into a legally binding contract with the airline.

Did you know that an airline has the right, and the passenger has an obligation to disembark the aircraft if:

  • You smell bad, and the odor is not caused by an illness.
  • They decide you are too big and you refuse to purchase a second seat.
  • You do not end your cell phone call when asked to do so by a flight attendant.

However, what if the airline is at fault by overbooking a flight?

  • Some airlines will start the forced removal of coach passengers before the first-class passengers.
  • Federal rules do mandate that airlines must compensate any involuntary removals at a rate of 200 to 400 percent of the purchased ticket price. In the aftermath of the United incident the airline raised how much money they will compensate a passenger in these circumstances.

What about flying with your beloved pet?

  • Certain dog breeds (ex. Snub-nosed) may not be permitted to fly.
  • Some airlines will not transport reptiles, rodents or spiders (thank goodness).

Did you know?

  • Musical instruments may require a purchase of a child or adult ticket purchase.
  • Delta will allow antlers to be checked in for an additional fee.

Here are some additional airlines’ obligations:

  • On American Airlines, if you find a low-priced ticket online that was posted in error, the airline may not honor it and cancel the reservation.
  • On Delta, don’t forget to take your carry-on with you when you disembark because if you forget it onboard, they are not responsible and will not replace it if it is lost.
  • Delta is not obligated to verify the identity of any person picking up luggage at the baggage claim area. So stand vigilant at the luggage conveyor belt.

The skies are friendlier to those who understand the nuances of the contractual relationship you enter with the airline when purchasing a ticket. Contract law is everywhere, even among the clouds.