Never thought I'd see bacon in the air
November 13, 2012 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Flight change... details inside

Keeping it simple. (Quasi) Boyfriend supposed to fly to Las Vegas Friday. Get a text tonight saying flight has been changed to tomorrow. Supposedly he has no idea why. I've done some cursory google searches that seem to indicate flight time changes in hours. But days? Not seeing anything like that, and it's bothering me. Common sense tells me that an airline would not change your flight by 2 days earlier, ESP without explanation on such short notice. What little flight experience I have... has always been within minutes of the itinerary.

So here's the question. Is this something that actually happens, and I'm just clueless? Or is this something that does not actually happen, as I suspect.

If relevant... this is a pleasure trip (to visit a friend).
posted by one4themoment to Travel & Transportation (37 answers total)
Clarification question: who got the text, and from whom?
posted by lulu68 at 5:57 PM on November 13, 2012

Response by poster: I got the text, from him.
posted by one4themoment at 5:58 PM on November 13, 2012

Response by poster: Now I'm being told that the flight was changed on Sept 23rd but he was unaware. Which I still find hard to believe because it's a personal trip and I don't see how the airline would switch 2 days in either direction even if you were using miles. They have no idea what you have planned for those 2 days. Am I really being overly analytical here?
posted by one4themoment at 6:00 PM on November 13, 2012

When I've nearly been bumped, they offer to put you on the next flight, even if it's full. Then they bump someone from the next for you, and put them on the one after that, and so on. Eventually they come to a flight that either isn't fully booked, or everyone doesn't show up (which is common in business/first class, and they'd give that to someone they bumped off of a previous flight)

I've seen the same thing happening at other gates when a whole flight is cancelled.

I can't really see them telling him he has to come back many days later, unless it was a "here's a list of flights coming up, choose the one that works best for you." Or unless they truly didn't have one for several days. Typically, though, if the cancellation was their fault, they'll even put you on another airline if you need them to.
posted by ctmf at 6:05 PM on November 13, 2012

Ah. Well, if they cancelled the flight that far in advance, then they wouldn't scramble like that. They'd assume you'd reschedule for whatever works best for you with the flights available.
posted by ctmf at 6:07 PM on November 13, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks ctmf, and I'd like to add that part I get. What I don't get is them moving his flight *back*. He was scheduled to leave on Friday and now he's scheduled to leave tomorrow???
posted by one4themoment at 6:07 PM on November 13, 2012

Best answer: I've been regularly booking flights as part of my job for a good ten years and barring some kind of major weather event, I've never seen this happen, domestic or international, on any of the major airlines. They wouldn't change his travel dates entirely without his consent.

A more likely explanation is that he booked the ticket incorrectly, or else remembered his travel dates incorrectly, and for some reason is embarrassed about that and is trying to cover his mistake.

Or else he's making things up.
posted by something something at 6:08 PM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I suspect your suspicions are correct.
posted by gaspode at 6:10 PM on November 13, 2012

Response by poster: In the grand scheme of askmefi... I really just want to know if this is something common or not. I am not a frequent flier and as stated all of my flights have always been minutes within the stated time. So I'm curious whether a flight would be moved up 2 days ahead of schedule for ANY reason (other than an imminent natural disaster...)
posted by one4themoment at 6:10 PM on November 13, 2012

The flight I take all the time, SEA to NRT, has one flight every day, same time, same flight number. They don't "push you back", they cancel today's completely and you catch tomorrow's flight, that was going to happen regardless. Make sense?
posted by ctmf at 6:10 PM on November 13, 2012

It's possible that his flight was cancelled or the schedule was changed and this new flight was what the computer spit out as an alternate. Almost always, the new flight is going to be far closer than two days, especially if we're talking about common domestic flights where there are numerous flights a day to choose from, but you never know what kind of nonsense an airline is computer is going to produce. They will notify you of a schedule change though, and it's not at all unreasonable to say, "That doesn't work for me. What do you have that's close to my original itinerary?" and figure something out from there.

The only relatively reasonable explanation for having this happen as described would be that he's flying on a single ticket from say, Laverton, Australia to Las Vegas. An advance cancellation or schedule change on one of the flights involved might well screw up your itinerary by a day or two, but the normal airline reaction is going to be to rebook you on a later flight, not two days early.

It is certainly not common.
posted by zachlipton at 6:14 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm threadsitting and I hate it, but yes that makes sense. Which is why if he had suddenly told me he was flying a day later I would have been on a whole other level of understanding about the situation. I just know that if I had planned on flying out Friday (already paid, etc.) and were then told I was flying out on Wednesday, I would have flipped my ****. Probably demanded a refund or a credit towards another flight/carrier.
posted by one4themoment at 6:14 PM on November 13, 2012

Best answer: Oh. I thought he had already missed his flight LAST friday and got rescheduled for tomorrow. No, I've never heard of flights being moved up to an earlier date.
posted by ctmf at 6:15 PM on November 13, 2012

Never heard of this and my husband traveled 5 days a week for 7 years. Something is fishy..., not saying he is up to something, maybe he really did get the dates wrong, but airlines don't do this..
posted by pearlybob at 6:15 PM on November 13, 2012

Tomorrow is the 14th. December 14th IS a Friday. That could be the error. Looking at the wrong month on the calendar when making the reservation.
posted by ctmf at 6:22 PM on November 13, 2012 [14 favorites]

I have made the mistake ctmf describes, and not discovered it until it was too late. It was an expensive mistake.
posted by dr. boludo at 6:36 PM on November 13, 2012

I've made the same mistake, too. I have also had United change my flights forward by several hours without notifying me, leaving me scrambling to get to the airport. I have not personally had a flight changed by several days, but anecdotally have heard of it happen (might have been on Consumerist).

If you're that paranoid, you could try to find his original reservation confirmation, but that may be a breach of trust you're not willing to make.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:54 PM on November 13, 2012

Do you know what airline he's booked on? I know sometimes charters can get changed quite abruptly, though not sure if it happens on the order of two full days early.
posted by lulu68 at 6:58 PM on November 13, 2012

This is common.

Get a hold of yourself - your suspiciousness does not equal the "crime." I am a frequent traveler, and would easily bet far more than the travelers on this board. This kind of flight change is a major gripe among seasoned travelers, and we often plan trips in light of the fact that this can happen (as it often does).
posted by Kruger5 at 7:01 PM on November 13, 2012

I probably take 100+ flights every year, and have friends who travel far more than that, and I've never had my flight moved up by two days. I've had flights cancelled due to weather (usually at the last minute, or one day in advance) and I've missed flights (causing me to take a later flight), and airlines suck in general, but I've never heard of this. User error.
posted by barnone at 7:15 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am a frequent traveler and I have had a flight time change to be an hour earlier (or later), but never a full day earlier. This sounds very, very fishy to me.
posted by joan_holloway at 7:54 PM on November 13, 2012

The whole notion that this is a thing any airline would do is completely ridiculous. 99% of scheduled travelers would be absent from work if their flights were moved up by several days. This would cause a caromed service nightmare, as hundreds of travelers tried to change their flights to leave Friday after work, as they intended, instead of on Wednesday. Also it's Las Vegas. There are many, many flights in and out of there every single day. If you fly a dozen planes into an airport every day and there is a problem with one of them, you're not going to be moving there schedules by days, they are, at worst, going to take the 5:30 flight instead of the 3:30 flight. Maybe if he was flying into Easter island and there was a scheduling problem, the next available p,and might not be for two days, but not Vegas.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:31 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I fly about 50 legs a year and there were years where I flew 100 legs. I never heard of a two day ADVANCE. Also, I worked for an cargo airline and know enough flight operations to be dangerous. Most problems can be solved with a day's notice. You can reposition a plane or a crew if you know there's going to be a problem in the next two days. Catastrophic weather can be a bugger which screws up all the flights, but a solitary flight with a problem? You fix it.

Consider the repercussions of a two day advance - packing, hotels, leaving your job a few days before your scheduled vacation. That's non-trivial for most travelers.
posted by 26.2 at 8:56 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Moved up, no. Cancelled and then you find there's a flight two days earlier, maybe.
posted by zippy at 9:04 PM on November 13, 2012

Most likely scenario: he booked the wrong days, only noticed just now when checking his reservation, and assumed the airline changed it, not realizing his initial error.
posted by grouse at 9:26 PM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

There was an AskMe recently where a flight was cancelled by the airline and they had automatically rescheduled it like 2 days earlier or later. It had to do with the next available flight with that connection by that airline or some other crazy scenario.

The upshot of that AskMe, BTW, is that if the new flight is inconvenient you should call the airline and ask them to reschedule to one that works better. Since they instigated the whole re-scheduling thing there should be no charge.

I've also done the 'accidentally schedule the flight one month off'--it was expensive in my case, too!--and accidentally scheduling a day or two off what you meant is certainly possible and easy to do.

I'd say any of those explanations is *possible*. Even if the 'airline rescheduled the flight 2 days ahead' only happens once in a million, if your friend is that one in the million, then there you go.

Also I would just have you friend double check to make sure his ticket is in the *correct month.* Boy was that embarrassing and annoying when I did that--11/14/2012 and 12/14/2012 really do look pretty similar unless you're reading very, very carefully . . .
posted by flug at 10:31 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've made a few really ridiculous errors booking tickets, including cmtf's Wrong Month Booking. Quasi-boyfriend may be either too embarrassed to admit the error or even unable to comprehend that he could made the error himself.
posted by the jam at 10:35 PM on November 13, 2012

I've had a flight moved to two days later than the original booking on an international flight. They notified me in July, I missed the email. I got to the airport in September, and was told I have no flight. I had to either camp out at the airport for two days, or rent a hotel for two days (as a really broke student). I ended up begging the person who sublet the room to me to let me stay for two more days.

In my case, they changed their flight frequency/time (e.g. originally they flew Tuesdays and Fridays, and now they're doing Wednesdays and Sundays).
posted by ethidda at 11:32 PM on November 13, 2012

I have had a flight moved several days earlier. It probably doesn't happen on the big airlines, but a small discount operation leasing a couple of jets and running select routes a few times a week? Sure.
posted by Nothing at 12:19 AM on November 14, 2012

It had to do with the next available flight with that connection by that airline or some other crazy scenario.

Just as a note, Las Vegas (being Las Vegas) is one of the best-connected cities in the US by air. Unless the boyfriend is flying out of Guam or Kabul or Wolf Point, Montana or someplace else totally obscure, it's unlikely that a missed/changed connection requires somebody to adjust their travel day so significantly.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:24 AM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have known an airline do this under the same circumstances as ethidda - an international flight to an airport they only flew to twice per week. Also, it was a budget airline with a terrible reputation for customer service. So it's possible, but unless the airline are a) only flying that route rarely and b) happy to have a reputation for saying "we're changing your flight details, like it or lump it", it's unlikely.
posted by Catseye at 12:44 AM on November 14, 2012

There was an AskMe recently where a flight was cancelled by the airline and they had automatically rescheduled it like 2 days earlier or later.

Are you talking about this one? Because that flight was moved 3.5 hours earlier (to the next earlier flight on the same day), not two days earlier.

I agree that this is fishy, Vegas is going to have flights in and out all the time so even the next earlier flight is unlikely to be two whole days earlier. And if it was, moving him to a later flight is a lot more likely.
posted by shelleycat at 1:08 AM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've had several flights rescheduled, usually bookings that were made several months before the actual flight date. I actually expect this airline to reschedule, because they usually do (they change their entire flight schedule, not just my flight.)

They always gave me a choice of the flights in the day BEFORE the booking, and the flights in the day AFTER the booking to pick from when the schedule is changed. This was a super-cheap super-budget airline, too.
posted by Ashlyth at 1:44 AM on November 14, 2012

Either he made a mistake with his dates or he hadn't booked the flight yet and suddenly the prices or his schedule has changed.
posted by jazh at 3:22 AM on November 14, 2012

His explanation is bullshit, but why would he lie about it?

At any rate, don't get too attached, there are people who lie about weird stuff for no reason. We don't like to know these people.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:58 AM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Nah, he doesn't have to be lying. I can see a scenario where he's looking at December while on the phone with the agent. He choses THAT Friday. It happens to be the 14th of December, but he thinks he's looking at November. Goes away thinking he made a reservation for something imprecise like "The Friday right in the middle of November, the 14th."

Gets an email later that says the real date, but doesn't look at it very closely. It says the 14th, rings a bell, good enough. Now, suspecting a problem, reads that email again. Hey, the 14th is Wednesday. I know I made the reservations for Friday. They moved my flight up two days!

Or maybe the airline did actually move it, as unlikely as that is.

In any case, this is probably one of those "polite fiction" cases. If he says the airline moved it on him, what's to be gained by proving he's the one who screwed it up? Unless there's a chance to get your money back on it (and that's unlikely given the airline's notification email in September) then you may as well allow him to save face by believing it.
posted by ctmf at 12:07 PM on November 14, 2012

Response by poster: He's safely on his way to Vegas and he fessed up this morning, said he and his friend thought it was the 16th the whole time so when they got the email that said 14th they thought the dates had changed. In fact, apparently, only the time changed. He went back through and looked at his emails this morning and figured it out and felt bad and forwarded me all the emails between him and his friend (and his friends family who he is going with, all of which was overkill, because I didn't need proof, I needed a story that made sense! Any story! Even a bad one! Just make sense!). He could still be lying but I don't care if he is, at least it's out of my head.

I'm not sure what 'polite fiction' is but it really bothered me! Nothing to be gained, but when something doesn't 'make sense' in my head, I can't get it out until I find a way to have it make sense. And it's maddening. And I'm sure it's some sort of mental disease or deficiency, but I'll save that for another ask.
posted by one4themoment at 3:02 PM on November 14, 2012

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