Airline shifting departure time unilaterally
November 1, 2012 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Is there any recourse when an airline moves your flight earlier and earlier, eventually adding a new flight at the original time that costs much more?

My wife and I are flying Delta to Tokyo: originally a 9am flight to Detroit followed by a 12:30pm flight to Narita. Delta has twice shifted our first flight earlier, once to 8am and again to 5:40am. Now I see that the flight at 9am has reappeared with a slightly different flight number. When I try to change to this flight via their website, the additional cost is >$3K.

Is this common? Would I get anywhere by calling them? Any recommendations on what angle to take, other than "Waaaahh, this seems unfair!" I'd just like to avoid getting up at 2am only to sit for a subsequent 4-hour layover. Thanks!
posted by Mapes to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Don't try to change via the website - call the customer service line and complain about the fact that your flight is leaving so much earlier, that you have a much longer layover, and that it's unacceptable. You agreed to pay a certain amount for a certain flight time and that's the one you want (or something close to it).

I've literally never had a problem getting different flight at the original time, although the routing sometimes changes, on any major airline.
posted by muddgirl at 2:34 PM on November 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I had this happen with our honeymoon trip. Flight I paid for was scheduled to leave at 2.40 pm and they changed me to a 6.40 am flight. I called and explained that if I wanted to change flights, according to their website, I would have to pay $150 for each flight I wanted changed. Therefore it made no sense for them to change my flight without any consultation or compensation.

In our case, it was the airline reducing flights and there was only one a day going out instead of two. So they comped the bag fees and put us in first class. Still had to get up stupid early the day after our wedding, but first class made it better.
posted by teleri025 at 2:44 PM on November 1, 2012

Best answer: Delta will be glad to change it for you for free if you call. I have never needed any more of a justification than a vague "the new time does not work for me". I can not find the official policy page, but iirc it was something like any schedule change of more than 90 minutes they will allow you to change to any flight on the same day with the same origin and destination. As such, this is also a good time to make sure you are really on the best route to your destination, if there is an earlier or later or more direct flight now is the time to get it. The agents do also have a bit of leeway with a good excuse for slight changes to days and destination.
posted by cspurrier at 3:08 PM on November 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This has happened to me several times.

I call the airlines with this script: "I was just notified that my original flight that was scheduled to depart at xxxx is now departing several hours later at xxxx. This is unacceptable to me and I need you to please find me a flight that departs closest to my original flight time as I originally booked. I'll hang on while you do this. Thank you."

I've actually been put on BETTER flights with shorter connections that arrived earlier than planned. Be flexible, be patient, and they should be able to sort you out. Most of all, BE POLITE. The person on the other end did not do this personally. A little sugar in this case is better than piss and vinegar. You should also not have to pay any additional fees for this.
posted by HeyAllie at 3:50 PM on November 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I had them do this, and when I called and noted that my original flight seems to still be available, even though they shifted me (ignore the flight numbers), they put me back on that flight. You can get back to that flight, don't let them tell you otherwise.
posted by katers890 at 4:26 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Happily, you folks were all absolutely right! I just called, and they transferred us back to the (new) 9am flight without any fuss at all. I had feared that this was a new airline scheme: shift people to less convenient times while continuing to sell the original slot. Thank you all very much!
posted by Mapes at 5:27 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

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