How to REALLY milk an airline schedule change.

As many of you know, I’m on a 1 week trip to Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Philadelphia, back to Los Angeles, and then New York.

Rewinding back to October, I received an email from British Airways (the carrier whom I had the trip ticketed with) noting a canceled flight on one of my trip legs.

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Take a look at this carefully – you’ll notice the only thing that changed was that one flight number was re-numbered to another. The actually flight, flight times and origin/destination stayed the same.

Ok…so now fast forward to a week ago. Due to a family emergency, my immediate family would no longer be in the Philadelphia area, and instead in New York. Not wanting to have to fly into Philly, only to then rent a car or take the Amtrak up to New York, I needed to come up with a plan to have my ticket changed without a change free.

My original itinerary was as follows:

  • Fly from Amsterdam to London, then from London to Philadelphia (on British Airways in Club Europe/Club World)
  • Overnight near Philadelphia, then fly from Philadelphia to Los Angeles (on US Airways in First Class)

I needed to:

  • Change my inbound flight from Amsterdam to New York, via London.
  • Change my outbound flight to departing from New York, to Los Angeles.

I decided to give British Airways a call. I didn’t tell the agent my precise predicament, but instead focused on the fact that one of my flights was canceled. Once I stressed this, and understood that the agent saw this, I requested a schedule change. Because British Airways had the “schedule change,” this allowed me full control of my ticket – even though it was only a simple re-numbering of a flight.

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I was prepared with new flight numbers and times to give the agent, that way it wouldn’t require her to search and then try to deny my request based upon the fact the original flight was only re-numbered. Essentially, I led the call, and didn’t let the agent take control – this is key when trying to get something done with an airline ticket. If you are a knowledgable passenger, it helps.

After reading the flight details to her, I had the following changed:

  • Retained the original Amsterdam to London flight in British Airways Club Europe
  • Changed London to New York, on American Airlines in Business Class
  • Changed New York to Los Angeles, on American Airlines in Business Class (A321T)

I was succesful in changing one of my origins and destinations all because of the fact that a flight was re-numbered. This goes to show that if you know what you’re doing, you can successfully change your travel itinerary and not be locked in. Hopefully this tip helps some of you, too!

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  1. KG says

    Question for you on schedule changes – If you get an email regarding a schedule change, do you have to call to make the changes within a certain period of time after the schedule change was announced or can it be done at any time? I’m guessing this is a YMMV situation, but just wondering if you have any experience.


  2. Ben says

    I have the following itinerary on United SYD-YVR-DEN-EWR-TPA

    About two months ago United changed it to SYD-YVR-DEN-ORD-TPA

    Yesterday I found the following Saver award available DEN-TPA direct (cuts out the stop in ORD) that would work with the rest of the itinerary. But, the SYD-YVR-DEN no longer has Saver award space available.

    To make this change United wants to charge me $75. Since United changed my itinerary 2 months ago (connection in ORD instead of EWR), would I be able to get the $75 change fee waived?

  3. SonP says

    Interesting. I have a flight in Feb. 2015 from SFO to DFW and then onward to LHR. The SFO-DFW portion is an AA codeshare and was “cancelled” and rescheduled with a different flight number which departs 35 mins later. BA would not let me adjust the itinerary without a fee.

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