What to Do When Airlines Change Your Flight

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Note: This post is about pre-scheduled flight changes.  Not changes that may occur on the day of or during travel.

When I'm planning a cruise, part of the planning is choosing the right flight.

My family and I always go to the port city the day before, well, cuz Murphy's Law and all. Well, this year, we're flying into Fort Lauderdale to cruise out of Miami.

? FLL is usually a little cheaper than flying in to MIA depending on where you're coming from and they're only about a 30 minutes apart.

We took our time and researched the flights that would allow us the smoothest experience on our trip. We were landing in FLL at about 2 pm.  With the time it takes to claim our bags and travel to Miami, by the time we got to the hotel, our rooms would be ready.  Then we could just chill out until dinner with the family.  Easy, right?

Then we got notified that they changed our flight to 2 hours earlier.  This is a problem because:

  1. Who wants to get up like you're going to work while you're on vacation? #NotISaidTheCat
  2. We'll get the to hotel 2 hours earlier and will now have to wait around for our rooms to be ready.
  3. It messed up my whole eating plan for the day!  Breakfast at home, buy lunch at the airport and eat on the plane, dinner in Miami.  The new time would have me eating breakfast on the plane and trying to figure out lunch AND dinner in Miami.  That's too much like work! LOL

We looked for other flights and found one that was just 30 minutes earlier.  We called and they changed the flight at no additional charge.

When an airline changes your booking, even slightly, they are supposed to notify you.  It's usually by email, but sometimes the email can get stuck in the junk folder.  Try using an app that will track changes to your flights.  I use Tripit Pro.

If they make a significant change – meaning a departure or arrival change over an hour, a date change, routing change or an aircraft change, you don't have to accept what they give you.

So here's what you should do:

Don't Panic

This actually happens all the time.  The reasons for the flight change could be many and varied; from a mandate by the FAA or airport to an equipment change.

See if the Change Will Work For/Against You

Sometimes the change could actually work in your favor.  They could move you to an earlier flight that would have cost you more money.  But, if you needed the specific itinerary you chose, then the change just becomes an inconvenience.

Research Online for Other Flights the Fit Your Schedule

Do a little research to find alternate flights that fit your schedule.  That way you can call the airline with a plan.

Call the Airline to Ask for the Change

Depending on how much your flight has changed, most airlines will let you change your flight for free.  But be sure to check the terms & conditions for your specific airline to see what they're willing to do.

You also have these options if the change is 2 hours or more:

  • Change the departure or arrival of the affected flight to a nearby location within 500 miles.
  • Change to a flight on a partner airline.
  • Get a full refund.

Has an airline ever changed your flight?  What did you do?

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19 thoughts on “What to Do When Airlines Change Your Flight

  1. Great tips! Living in FL we usually opt for a port here so I never thought about this if we go to AK or something like that!

  2. Great info!! I have an a change before and the airline was very accommodating.

  3. Great post, and so useful to know all this! It has happened to us before, but luckily it didn’t interfere with our plans. Thanks for all the info! 🙂

  4. This seems to be happening more and more lately. And you are right the notification email very often goes to the junk mail folder. Last time it happened to us they moved our departure flight from the morning to the late afternoon so we lost a day of our vacation on that end and then they will move our return flight from the evening to late morning so we lost a day on that end of the trip as well. It was very disappointing I will keep your tips in mind for next time

  5. This is great advice! Kinda stressful if it happens but it’s nice to know your options!

  6. Great tips! It’s amazing what you can do if you just ask and look around a little.

  7. Great advice! It seems like they change things more then they used to for sure!

  8. These are great tips. I haven’t ever had a flight changed to earlier than scheduled but definitely have had them delayed. It’s super frustrating!

  9. I’ve never had them change me that much (usually just delays), but it’s really good to know that you don’t have to accept what they give you. Thanks for the tips!

  10. This has happened to me a lot in the past year or two. We always book the last flight out at around 8 p.m. so we can work all day before heading to the airport an hour and a half away. So many times, we’ve been switched to the 5:40 flight which just won’t do. Calling has worked wonders.

  11. My flights have never been changed, just delayed on occassion. I didn’t realize remedies existed so thanks for the tips!

  12. Travel is all about expecting the unexpected. Great tips. I love that your first tip is…Don’t panic 🙂

  13. We always go a day early, but usually our flights re delayed I would welcome an earlier flight as it brings on vacation sooner. win!

  14. We have had an airline change out flights home. Fortunately for us, we had the next day off for vacation recovery. So we enjoyed the extra night and the perks from the airlines.

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