Of late the DoT has been rather aggressive in regulating airline behavior in favor of the customer. Most of these rules have been related to fares and advertising but there have been others as well. So it was a bit out of character last week when the DoT ruled against a petition from a passenger, siding with the airlines when it comes to schedule changes. The agency essentially said that regulating such changes would be unreasonable and that requiring refunds in all cases would make it unfeasible to operate the airlines. The DoT also notes that flight schedules are not actually part of an airline’s contract of carriage. This seems counter to the recent ruling on fare changes where airlines were prohibited from enforcing certain provisions of the CoC if they were considered in violation of the DoT rules.
Overall probably not that big a deal. And expecting a full refund for any change to a schedule was probably reaching a bit too far. But if the airlines really aren’t required to maintain the schedule at all that could open up some interesting gray areas in the way the CoC provisions are enforced. Especially for the airlines which actually have clauses about schedule changes in their CoCs.