No, the title isn’t misspelled! I’ve mentioned before that sometimes airline changes work to your advantage as long as you are willing to do a little bit of work. Most of my tickets are booked early, as soon as award schedule opens up. I’m a very impatient person by nature and usually have 4 seats to worry about. I also want to get a decent schedule, so all of those factors morph me into an early bird who badly wants to get that “worm.”
Of course, it’s almost a given that schedules are likely to change in the 11 months since you’ve booked your award ticket. But many times it’s a good thing. Let’s take my AAdvantage redemption on a flight from Tampa to Seattle. I wrote in this post that I decided to burn miles on 4 first-class tickets.
The schedule was decent but not great. For example, we had a 2.5 hour layover in Dallas, and the flight to Seattle was set to land at 7.30 PM local, 10:30 PM Florida time. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t ideal either, considering that at home my kids go to bed at 8:30 PM. But what can you do?
Well, a possible solution has presented itself a few days ago. I got a notification from American that the flight from Tampa was pushed back 40 minutes, so now we would have an over 3-hour layover in Dallas. No, no, no!
At that point, I had several choices: try to get a refund of my miles or ask them to find me a better flight schedule. I decided to go with the latter. I have a ton of Rapid Rewards points, but already promised my husband a first-class comfortable seat. Some battles you just don’t fight.
So, let me work you through the process:
1) Do your homework ahead of time.
Do you want to cancel and re-book while using a different mileage currency? This could be your chance. Check the prices on other airlines, but don’t cancel anything yet. If you prefer to stick with the same airline and class of service, find out what other non-stop or connecting flights are available on that day. That’s what I did. I had a page in front of me while I called. The best option was a flight with 1 hour connection in Chicago. It would get us to Seattle at 4:30 PM local time. Perfect.
2) Be polite and plead your case.
When I finally got connected to an agent, I told her about our situation and asked her to rebook us. She said since the flight time change was only 40 minutes, they are technically not required to accommodate me. This is where most people give up. Don’t!
I told her nicely that we have two small children and that they would go crazy sitting in the airport for 3 hours. In other words, use your circumstances to your advantage (but don’t lie). She said she would talk to her supervisor and see what they can do. But before she put me on hold, I told her about my desired route via Chicago. I said, this is my first choice if she can pull it off, but a shorter connection in any airport will be fine. I didn’t put any pressure on her.
3) HUCA if you have to.
If the agent wasn’t willing to play ball, I would simply hang up and call back. I’ve done it before and strongly recommend you cut your losses if you don’t see any progress or cooperation. Some agents simply don’t care, so move on.
4) Pay it forward.
The agent came back and happily gave me the good news: We were confirmed on the flight through Chicago just as I requested. Success! I recommend you don’t hang up yet. When I first called, I was asked to participate in a survey. I was tired and declined. Well, since the agent was so very nice and helpful, I really wanted to leave a positive feedback so I told her that and asked her to connect me to her supervisor.
She was very excited and told me stay on the phone for a few minutes. It was more like 10, but I didn’t hang up. When the supervisor got on the phone , I mentioned how impressed I was with her employee. It was 100% true. I did it because it was the right thing to do, but also to hopefully encourage agents to help out with flight changes. They don’t make commission if things go well for customer, but potential promotion could definitely sweeten the deal.
Plus, everyone likes positive feedback. This hobby is full of spoiled and entitled individuals (sorry, it’s true!) who complain about every tiny thing, but never acknowledge good customer service. I don’t want to be one of them.
So, we are all set on our first-class flights to Seattle with a schedule I wanted to begin with. I had a chance to cancel and rebook it in Southwest, but didn’t. It’s 7 hours of flying and my husband will appreciate a seat that is made for a normal American male who is 6 feet 4 inches and weighs 250 lb. Naturally, most of it is muscle.
Another nice thing is that we’ll get to split up the kids. Last time they sat together on a plane, they were at each other’s throats. And I mean that literally. I looked to the right and my daughter was choking our son. Apparently, he was being annoying and it was a way to teach him lesson. We.Don’t.Choke.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.