SWA just modified their contract of carriage, redefining “force majeure” to include mechanical breakdowns. “Force majeure” usually means mishaps that are outside the control of the airline, such as weather, earthquakes, war, and ATC snarls. But interestingly, now it includes things like hydraulic and electrical problems, which surely the airline can control (mostly) with its maintenance practices.
“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, volcanic eruption or any other event, including, 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, Air Traffic Control, the inability to obtain fuel, labor or landing facilities for the flight in question or any fact not reasonably foreseen, anticipated or predicted by Carrier.”
How long until someone challenges this in court? Will it hold up? And why is the airline that prides itself on giving the customer a square deal and great service, now innovating on weaseling out of the consequences for its maintenance habits?