How to Make Schedule Changes Work In Your Favor

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Imagine: you booked a trip a few months ago and all of a sudden there is a PING! on your phone. You’ve just received an email notification that your flight timing has been changed. Regardless of how big of a change your flights have had and whether or not it really affects your plans, you should consider giving the airline a call to make some favorable changes to your ticket.

Depending on which airline you have booked your ticket through and how extensive the changes were, you might have luck making different kinds of changes to your tickets. As a general rule, if your change was by more than two hours, you can change to flights within a day or two or cancel your ticket at no cost. If you have smaller changes, your mileage may vary depending on the airline.

I recently had two examples of schedule changes that I want to share with you.

The first was a schedule change on an American Airlines award ticket. My connection in JFK had been made shorter by about one hour. I was able to change from a two connection itinerary to a one connection itinerary for my flights. Normally with an award ticket, award space would still need to be available if travel is on partner airlines for this to work, but since all of my travel was on American Airlines, they were able to open up the space for the more direct itinerary. Overall, we shortened our travel time for this trip by about two hours and cut out a connection. I’d call that a success!

The second example is a little more complicated, and as I discovered while writing this piece, not fully resolved just yet. I had an itinerary I had booked through Priceline as a round-trip, but my return flights conflicted with an event that I wanted to attend.
It isn’t something I have to go to, so I was waiting to see if a schedule change came through that allowed me to either push back my flight or cancel it all together. I flew the outbound of this itinerary back in July. Finally, the schedule change came through! It was only changed by about 40 minutes so I wasn’t sure when I called if that was going to be enough to make a significant enough change or a cancellation.
After some back and forth between Priceline and Jet Airways, I was able to get Priceline to contact Jet Airways directly while I was on the phone and have the itinerary cancelled – for a partial refund (approximately half) on my original form of payment – or so I was told. Priceline put up a big fight about going through “The Process” which normally takes six to eight weeks, but I didn’t want to wait that long to plan new flights as my new flight would need to be in early February (which was about nine weeks from when I was making this call).
Writing this article reminded me that I needed to check to find out if the refund had come through onto my credit card yet, and it hadn’t. I then headed over to Priceline to checkout my itinerary and was notified that my itinerary was cancelled, but that my travel funds are stored in a voucher that must be used for JetAirways flight and by one year from the airfare purchase date. Since this isn’t what I agreed to, and is basically the same to me as not getting a refund at all considering that I have no plans to need a fare with Jet Airways in the coming months, I have contacted Priceline to make an attempt to resolve the situation.
Unexpectedly, this second example needs a ‘to be continued…’
The lesson here? Don’t be afraid to use airline schedule changes to your advantage, even if the changes are minor. But also, be prepared for airlines and OTAs to not quite dot their i’s and cross their t’s and follow up when you need to.
Have you ever changed or cancelled a ticket due to an airline schedule change?

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