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The great thing about booking award flights 11 months in advance is that (usually) award availability is better. And, you can start to plan the rest of your trip, knowing that your flights are already set.
The bad thing about booking flights so early is that flight schedules change frequently. This happens almost every time I book flights months in advance.
My Award Flight Change
I’ve had Europe on my mind a lot lately. As I was dreaming about my upcoming trips to Europe, my gut prompted me to search my emails to see if any of our flights had changed. I get a lot of junk email, more and more each day, so I don’t always catch the important ones.
Sure enough, when I did a search, I found a flight change notification from Alaska Airlines. I had used Alaska Airlines miles to book two business class seats home from Switzerland on Alaska’s partner airline, British Airways.
Our flight was moved up 6 hours earlier to a 7:00 a.m. departure. Ouch! Normally, that wouldn’t be such a big issue to just get up at the crack of dawn and make the flight. However, we will be staying in a town a few hours away from the airport. Our plan was to take an early morning train to the airport and arrive in plenty of time for our afternoon flight. But now, that would not be possible. We would have to leave around 3:00 a.m., and there are no trains at that hour.
Alaska Airlines gave us a few options. We could keep our new flights and stay closer to the airport the night before our flight. Or, we could move our flights to the next day. Of course, we also had the option to completely cancel and get a refund.
Cancelling was not an option for us. So basically, we could cut our sight-seeing short by a half a day or add one full day to our trip. Guess which option I chose? Ha!
Making the Change
This should have been an easy change to make online. It looked like it would be easy. However, when I got to the final approval screen, I received an error. I tried it again, same result. I even waited until the next day to try, but still no luck.
So, I was forced to pick up the phone and call Alaska Airlines. I dread calling airlines on the phone due to extremely long wait times. However, I was pleasantly surprised that my wait time was only 7 minutes.
The employee figured out that I was getting an error because there was only one business class award seat left on the flight I was trying to move to. She put in a request with British Airways to make another seat available due to my flight time change. Now, I have to wait a week or so to hear back from Alaska Airlines.
“Babysitting” the Flights
Thankfully, I’m still six months away from my flights to navigate this bump. Trying to deal with this change on shorter notice would be more difficult.
This is your reminder to babysit or check on your flights that you’ve booked far in advance. Schedules change, seats change and stuff happens. Better to fix it now than be surprised later.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.