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Rule 240 debate sparks useful advice

Rule 240—a rumored section in airlines' contracts of carriage that outlines their responsibility to passengers when a flight is delayed or cancelled—holds a place in travel lore right up there with dressing well to get a free upgrade to first class. Recently, industry experts Peter Greenberg and Joe Brancatelli have been throwing down over whether Rule 240 is fact or fiction. And Christopher Elliott has just stepped into the fray with a column that's not so much about the rule as it is about the rules you'll find in each airline's contract of carriage.

Elliott points out that a rule by any other number can still cover airline responsibility to passengers in the event of flight delays or cancellations. He gives some very sensible advice, namely to check the contract of carriage for the airline you're flying and familiarize yourself with the commitments the airline has seen fit to put on paper. And if the thought of slogging through the dense contract language fills you with dread, you can always print it out and read it if, say, you've got three extra hours on the tarmac and could really use something to read.

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