Are you holding airline tickets for an upcoming trip? The odds are favorable that you will fly on schedule.
But as air travel ramps back up, be aware that the airlines have been tweaking departure times, flight frequency, and in some cases even swapping aircraft models based on customer demand — or lack thereof.
Increase in Air Travel Changes
You can get an idea of the many changes taking place in air travel right now by doing a quick Google Flights search for one-way travel between certain cities.
For instance, let’s look at nonstop flights from Atlanta, Georgia, to Newark, New Jersey. Delta Air Lines offers seven nonstops on most dates in April and has 10 scheduled per day in August. United Airlines is offering just three daily nonstops on most dates in April but eight per day in November.
Know Your Passenger Rights
If you’re trying to take advantage of an airfare deal for a trip that’s months away, there’s a good chance the flight you book will change between now and then — certainly if demand for consumer travel stays flat and the airlines continue to adjust routes for their profitability.
The airlines are required to notify you of major flight schedule changes, but there are times when a notification just doesn’t get sent (it happened to me on two international trips).
So it’s essential for you to keep a close eye on your itinerary.
Some travelers are reporting that the new re-booked flight times are terribly inconvenient. As a consumer, you do not have to accept the rescheduled itinerary if it doesn’t suit you.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), customers are “entitled to a refund regardless of the reason” if the booked flight is canceled by the airline.
If the airline puts you on a schedule that requires a connection when you originally booked a nonstop flight, you can get a full refund. And if the new flight is more than two hours delayed from the original departure time and you are unhappy with the new schedule, you are also entitled to a refund.
Follow These Tips if Your Flight Changes
Tip #1: Check Google Flights
Before you accept the new itinerary, visit Google Flights to see if there is a more convenient schedule on another airline — and possibly at a lower price! Then make your decision to cancel with the original airline and start over with a new ticket purchase.
Tip #2: Book Refundable Travel
Don’t pre-pay or book any non-refundable trip components such as a vacation rental or resort stay. A major flight schedule change could impact your well-laid plans.
Know your rights as a flyer! Learn more at FlyersRights.org and at the U.S. Department of Transportation website.