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Taking advantage of a schedule change — reader success story

Jan. 08, 2020
5 min read
Taking advantage of a schedule change — reader success story
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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Shannon, who scored a much more convenient itinerary after being rerouted:

I live about 10 minutes from the Pittsburgh airport, but I often find myself flying out of other airports due to high prices out of PIT. A friend and I looking to attend Carnival in Brazil booked American Airlines flights from Toronto to Rio de Janeiro with a layover in JFK for $600 round-trip (compared to nearly $1,200 out of Pittsburgh). The commute to YYZ was outweighed by the $600 savings per person, and the added allure of a stop at Niagara Falls.

Early in December, I received an e-mail from American Airlines that my flight had been changed. I pulled up the itinerary and made note of the new flight times, which extended our layovers by about an hour in each direction. I was about to close the e-mail when the airport code caught my attention. Instead of a short layover in JFK, our flights had been altered to fly into LGA and out of JFK. That would entail flying into New York, going through customs, retrieving our luggage, paying out-of-pocket for a cab or shuttle to another airport, rechecking bags and going back through security on both ends of our trip.

Upon calling American the first time, I was informed the only option they could provide was to fly from Toronto to Rio with a full-day layover in Miami both ways. While Pittsburgh is within 300 miles of Toronto (the airport radius American allows for rebooking in the event of a change on their end), the fact that it was in another country ruled out the change ... or so we thought!

A second customer service rep was able to find a rule that superseded this policy. Since American had suspended YYZ–JFK service altogether, she was able to rebook us from Pittsburgh to Rio with a short connection in Miami. The first rep was either unaware of this option or unwilling to provide it, so never be afraid to call back and try again. Thanks to American’s schedule change, we ended up on our ideal flight for half the price!

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Schedule changes are a nuisance when you're happy with your flights, but they also create opportunities to evade less desirable itineraries. Changes don''t need to be as dramatic as service being eliminated entirely; you may also be eligible to switch flights (or get a refund) if your departure or arrival times change or if your aircraft is swapped out for another, especially if it means you get downgraded to a lower class of service. Each airline handles these situations differently, so check your carrier's policies before addressing changes to your itinerary, and research other flight options before calling so you can suggest alternatives that work for you.

If you're having trouble finding affordable airfare from the nearest airport, consider using miles to position yourself for cheaper flights elsewhere. Many airlines offer inexpensive awards on shorter flights, so you don't have to burn a ton of miles to tack on a connection. For example, Shannon could have booked Economy Web Special AAdvantage awards for 12,000 miles round-trip from Pittsburgh to Miami, where flights to Rio are significantly cheaper. Weigh the value of your miles against the amount you stand to save to see if this approach is worthwhile, and remember to factor in the added risk of booking your trip on separate tickets.

Shannon's story is a reminder that airline (and other) representatives don't always know the rules. When I have a strong case but reach an agent who is uninformed and/or unhelpful, I don't waste time trying to draw blood from a stone. I either ask to speak with a supervisor, or I simply thank them for their time, hang up and call again until I reach someone more pliable. However, I don't advise calling repeatedly when the rules are clearly not in your favor in hopes of finding an agent who doesn't know better. That's a waste of everyone's time.

Related: These are the cheapest (and most expensive) airports in the U.S.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Shannon a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can't respond to each story individually, but we'll be in touch if yours is selected.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured image by Getty Images/Robert Harding Worl

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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
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Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023