Passengers Struggle With Airline Schedule Changes

What options do you have if your flight itinerary suddenly changes?

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If you have traveled within the last couple of months, you may have experienced flight time changes.

Michael Fomon said he experienced multiple changes to his flight itinerary for an upcoming trip.

He told NBC 6 Responds he booked a flight to Mexico back in January to attend his daughter’s upcoming wedding.

“The pictures look nice, and of course, Dad’s got to be there,” Fomon said.

He booked a flight with Aeromexico from Miami International to Los Cabos International Airport.

He said it wasn’t long before he was notified of a change to his flight time.

“That flight number was canceled and they issued me a new flight and that put me into Cabo at midnight,” Fomon said.

A time change he didn’t like, so he said he called the airline to modify it.

“That got us in at a more reasonable time, but then just last week, they changed the times again on the flight leaving out of Cabo,” Fomon said.

It’s a time tug of war airline passengers may be experiencing more often since the pandemic started.

“It’s the kind of thing, excuse the pun, that is always up in the air,” said senior airline reporter David Slotnick.

Slotnick works with the online travel publication The Points Guy.

He said these changes are in part due to airlines having a hard time estimating how many passengers will be on each flight.

“Before the vaccine was available and started to pick up again, you saw where passengers were booking days, maybe a week before their flight,” Slotnick said. “That never happened before. It used to be that that was just business travel going to last-minute meetings.” 

So what options do you have if your flight itinerary suddenly changes?

Though airlines do not guarantee their schedules, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) says if your flight is canceled or an airline makes a significant adjustment to your schedule, and you choose to cancel your trip as a result, you are entitled to a refund. 

But what constitutes a significant change can differ depending on the airline.

Slotnick recommends reviewing the airline carrier’s policy and if you don’t get a refund but believe you should, you can file a complaint.

“Passengers can always complain to the DOT if they think it is not being fairly enforced and obviously that is not ideal and takes time, and involves paperwork,” Slotnick said.

He said passengers should be their own advocates. 

“Log into your reservation periodically, and if something does change, then look into your options, see if there is a better flight, call and ask for a refund,” Slotnick said.

Slotnick said there are a few things you can do to help avoid constant flight changes like booking round trips and popular flights to popular cities.

Michael Fomon told us he ran into an issue getting a refund on one of the tickets he purchased.

We reached out to Aeromexico about the changes to his reservation but we are still waiting to hear back.

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