American Airlines enacts policy to avoid rebooking delayed travelers on rival airlines

The Chicago Tribune has reported American Airlines has instituted a new policy that instructs airport agents not to rebook delayed passengers on competing airlines, the publication said.

According to the Tribune, the new policy has no stated limit on how long a stranded passenger must wait for a seat on another American flight. A manager can make exceptions in a few cases, such as people flying to a wedding or funeral and those who would be stranded overnight with no hotel room.

Agents can still put economy passengers on American´s international partner airlines. By contrast, American told agents in late September to help the airline´s best customers get to their destinations quickly, even if it means putting them on Delta or United.

Elite-level members of American´s frequent-flyer program and people who bought a first-class or business-class ticket can be booked on another airline if they face a delay of at least five hours — and even sooner for the highest level of elite customers.

Many of the largest and oldest airlines have agreements to put passengers on one another´s flights when there are long delays or cancellations. American, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines all have alliances with other global carriers and so-called interline agreements with each other. Airlines pay for such transfers, but at discounted fares.

American made its instructions to agents available to The Associated Press.