Monday, February 24, 2014

I Love Schedule Changes!

Most people hate having their flights change, because it throws off their plans. I suppose if you're only flying once a year for your big annual vacation, you want everything perfect and may have even paid up for the exact flight time you wanted. But our family's different.

Since my family of 3 flies pretty frequently, paying even small premiums for each trip can get quite expensive. So instead of paying up for the exact flight we want each time, we usually book the cheapest flight that we're still OK with, even if it's not the absolute best time.

Then we just wait and hope to take advantage of any schedule/equipment changes that will allow us to change to the better flight for free. Normally, change fees are usually $150/person domestically and $300/person internationally if you want to make a change, but they're waived if the airline makes a change that doesn't work for you.

In fact, we were already able to take advantage of this "change without a change fee" situation when we re-booked our April New Orleans flight a few weeks ago, getting onto the 4PM direct flight back to Newark instead of the earlier departure which connected in beautiful Cleveland. But how often do these situations happen?

Well, our latest case and point - My family and our friend John Mark were scheduled to fly down to Atlanta for Mother's Day weekend in May for both (a) my father's annual MLB stadium trip and (b) a Mother's Day visit to John Mark's family.

We of course wanted to maximize our time on Sunday afternoon (apparently his grandmother cooks a mean Mother's Day lunch). The 8PM United flight that night would have allowed us to leave his family's house at 6PM, while the earlier 5:30PM flight meant we'd have to leave for the airport by 3:30PM.

However, the price difference was an extra $100/person for the later flight. Spread that across 4 passengers, we were looking at a meaningful $400 premium for just 2.5 extra hours. So we booked the 5:30PM return flight for lower $297/each roundtrip.

Then this past Friday morning, my father received this email from his dear friends at United informing him that there would be some changes in his original itinerary.
  • Outbound: 9:10AM-11:37AM was rescheduled for 9:54AM-12:29PM. Not a huge deal.
  • Return: 5:30PM-7:56PM was rescheduled for 5:59PM-8:29PM. Not a huge deal either.

But since it was a change on United's end, my father saw an opportunity to switch the return to his ideal 8PM flight.

So he called up United and then told him that the rescheduled 5:59PM flight didn't work for him. Hypothetically, if we had a 8:30PM Sunday dinner in New York that we were trying to make it back for, this 29 minute change would break our hypothetical dinner plans.

So instead, we would have a hypothetical 5PM conference call instead of the hypothetical dinner meeting, which would require us to take a hypothetical later flight. Perhaps there was a hypothetical 8PM flight back home? Funny how this hypothetical scenario worked out.

No comments:

Post a Comment