A formal Department of Transportation complaint has been filed (.pdf) against American Airlines by Mike Borsetti over the removal of their general tariff from their website in June.
American used to have its full ‘terms and conditions’ available online. They’ve removed the legalese entirely from their website and now offer a plain language FAQ-style conditions of carriage page.
However there’s still a general tariff, the contract of carriage incorporates it by reference, and customers effectively agree to it when they buy a ticket. They just can’t see it.
While the conditions of carriage say it is “the entire agreement” between the airline and customer, the full general tariff is filed with foreign governments and with the U.S. federal government. DOT rules – and basic fairness – require that it also be made available to customers.
And the general tariff includes more detail that the ‘conditions of carriage’ page on proper handling during irregular operations, as well as when refunds are due to customers (including how downgrade compensation should be paid).
The full tariff is 285 pages (a copy is included in the complaint). It used to be available to customers, was taken away over the summer, but seems like it should simply be posted back online. It will be fascinating to read American’s explanation for its removal, and for why it’s not obligated to provide full detail to its customers on what policies they’re agreeing to.
An American Airlines spokesperson shares, “We’re aware of the complaint filed with the Department of Transportation and will be responding to it in a timely manner.” They promise to flag for me once they’ve responded.