Saturday, July 24, 2010

God Almighty!

Southwest Airlines last week issued a revised "contract of carriage," which is the fine print laying out what an airline risibly regards as a legal contract between passengers and itself, in which mechanical breakdowns are included under the standard "force majeure" clause, commonly known as the "acts of God" clause.

That would mean that mechanical failures are God's fault, rather, you see, than the airline for screwing something up that is entirely under its control. You want a refund for that missed connection caused by a mechanical problem? Pray!

[Here's a smart story on the Southwest move in today's Arizona Daily Star, the Tucson newspaper.]

Here's the exact language of the force majeure section in the revised Southwest contract of carriage. The italics are mine:

"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."



Bill Cash said...

Mr. Sharkey, your column is going downhill as you become more and more shrieky.

Southwest clearly did not define mechanical problems as an "act of God" any more than it defined riots, embargoes, or wars as acts of God. It's true that adding mechanical problems to the clause is a significant event, but your misreading of the language sensationalizes it. Stick to the news, it's why I (sometimes) still read your material.

ChefNick said...

Hey Bill,

Guess who's going to get really "shrieky" if I see your name again.

See also said...

Belated Reply to "Bill Cash" -- "Shrieky?" Come on. And whether you choose to read this blog or not is irrelevant to me. Also, try to use your real name, which is known. JS