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This post from the archives is running again because it shows the power of schedule changes – find out how you can use a schedule change on your flight to your advantage!

Today’s reader question comes from Kate, who is flying with her family of 5 and asks:

So… My husband and I have three littles and have booked a flight for the family. … and today I got the 2nd schedule change on our itinerary! The first change wasn’t much of a big deal – half an hour later flight on 2nd of 3 flight segments. This latest one is harder though. What we have is a one way flight for 5 (booked on AA points) on AA. Our previous (after 1st schedule change) itinerary was ABQ 6:35am – DFW 9:24am ; DFW 12:35pm – MCI 2:17pm ; MCI 3:45pm – CLT 7:00pm. It’s now been rescheduled to ABQ 8:51am – DFW 11:35am ; DFW 12:35pm – MCI 2:17pm ; MCI 3:45pm – CLT 7:00pm. So our layover in DFW went from 3 hours to 1 hour. That’s going to be rushed with 3 kids (ages 8, 4 & 2) plus we planned on doing lunch break in DFW during the layover.

Do you think we can get this changed to something better? We have never dealt with needing to adjust a schedule change and I have no idea if they care if we’re running around with grumpy, hungry kids or not! Basically we need to get from ABQ to CLT on July 2 or July 3. We actually would prefer July 3 but when I originally booked, I was only able to find 5 economy saver award seats on July 2. At this point there isn’t ANY economy saver award availability for 5 at any time on any day! Oddly there seems to be plenty of availability in business class, but alas, I only have points for the 5 of us if we are in econ.

If I call, would they let us request flights that do not have award availability? or are we pretty much stuck with the change?


Schedule change… to the rescue

A schedule change to an already booked award ticket can be one of the best things that happens! It doesn’t always turn out for the best (SEE: Delta just split up my family!), but generally speaking, it’s a good thing. If the schedule change is deemed “severe” enough (and that’s open for debate on how persuasive you can be on the phone!), then the AA agents can pretty much do anything, including opening up seats where there is no award space. Typically that’s only an option for flights operated by the same carrier whose miles you are using, rather than a partner, but in Kate’s case, she is using American miles to fly American.

What to do when you get a schedule change

Thanks to a schedule change, I got us 16 extra hours in Rome... for FREE!

Thanks to a schedule change, I got us 16 extra hours in Rome… for FREE!

In Kate’s case, I would call the American AAdvantage customer service number at 800-882-8880.  It may take a bit of “negotiation” with the agent, or if they’re not telling you what you want, then you may need to HUCA (hang up, call again).  But with a bit of persistence, you should be able to get whatever flights you want.  I also usually suggest finding out the different flight options that exist, using Google Flights or a similar tool (one of my Top 10 miles and points tools!). Depending on the agent that you get, it can be helpful to have the flights you’re looking at (complete with flight numbers) to help “guide” them.

Most importantly, don’t settle! If the first agent you talk to doesn’t get you the flights that you want, just thank them, hang up, and try again. When my flight from Rome had a (relatively minor) schedule change, it took me a few calls in before I was able to speak to a supervisor and get us on a direct flight from Rome to New York (rather then connecting in London).

(SEE ALSO: How I got us 16 extra hours in Rome… for FREE!)

In Kate’s case, she should not only be able to get a different flight, potentially even on a different (better) day, but also one with only one connection (instead of having to connect in Dallas AND in Kansas City, per her original booking. As long as there are seats available for sale, the call center agents can open them up for a schedule changed award. Be persistent and good luck out there!

Followup: After following the advice in this post, Kate was able to call and (after 20 minutes with a supervisor) get a one stop flight through DFW due to this schedule change

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