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Daylight Saving Time Confusion — Reader Mistake Story

Dec. 16, 2016
5 min read
terminal airport clock featured
Daylight Saving Time Confusion — Reader Mistake Story
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One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about all the positive ways award travel has affected their lives. That being said, while I love hearing about your successes, I think there's also a lot we can learn by sharing our mistakes, and I'm calling on readers to send in your most egregious and woeful travel failures.

From time to time I’ll pick one that catches my eye and post it for everybody to enjoy (and commiserate with). If you’re interested, email your story to, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Include details of exactly how your trip went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made it right. Please offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what precautions the rest of us can take to avoid the same pitfalls. If we publish your story, I’ll send you a gift to help jump-start your next adventure (or make up for any blunders from the last one).

Recently, I posted a story from Renee, who had a bad experience with an exit row seat. Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Chris, who missed a flight due to an unexpected time change. Here’s what he had to say:

Your guest
Chris learned the hard way that most of Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Saving Time. Image courtesy of the JW Marriott Scottsdale.

I was flying from Pittsburgh to Santa Barbara with a connection in Phoenix. It was a Sunday in the fall, and happened to be the end of daylight saving time — the day the clocks are set back one hour. Upon landing, my phone told me I had 90 minutes until my next departure, so I grabbed some food and took my time getting to the gate.

To my horror, I arrived at the gate only to find that I had already missed my flight. I had no idea that Phoenix doesn't observe daylight saving time, so they don't change their clocks with the rest of us. That meant the actual time was an hour later, and my 90-minute connection was really only 30 minutes. For whatever reason, my phone didn't update to the actual time, so it was a complete surprise to me.

Since that was the last connecting flight to Santa Barbara for the day, I ended up having to pay for a hotel to stay the night and catch the first flight out in the morning. It was an expensive mistake, but I learned my lesson: be sure to understand how daylight saving rules in Phoenix. I know I won't forget them!

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Chris's experience was unusual (since it occurred on the day of a time change), but it's pretty common to not know the time upon arrival, especially in a foreign destination. Don't assume the clock on your phone or other device is accurate, since it may fail to update or you might not have service. If you have a connection or an appointment to keep, it pays to check clocks in the airport, or listen for announcements about the time zone and current local time that are broadcast periodically in some major airports.

Getting the time wrong is one of many common scheduling errors you can fix by simply double-checking your itinerary. We all make mistakes, but reviewing your tickets once or twice after you buy them will help you avoid turning small mistakes into large ones. It's especially helpful to do this within 24 hours of purchase, since you can then take advantage of the favorable hold and cancellation rules imposed by the US Department of Transportation.

Finally, note that Arizona isn't the only place that doesn't observe daylight saving time. Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are all exceptions, along with plenty of international destinations. Also note that the start and end dates are inconsistent across the world; for example, in 2017 DST will run from March 12 to November 5 in the US, while it only runs from March 26 to October 29 in Europe. If you're traveling in the spring or fall, pay attention to the local time changes!

Hawaii is another destination that doesn't observe Daylight Saving Time. Image courtesy of FatCamera via Getty Images.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Chris for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on his travels.

I’d like to do the same for you! If you’ve ever arrived at the airport without ID, booked a hotel room in the wrong city, missed out on a credit card sign-up bonus, or made another memorable travel or rewards mistake, I want to hear about it. Please indulge me and the whole TPG team by sending us your own stories (see instructions above). I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto