Monitor Your Spring and Summer Flights for Flight Changes. With aircraft flying with full or high passenger loads, you're at an advantage if you notice your flight time change or aircraft change before other passengers do, so that you have more choices for your changes.
In some cases schedule changes can even be an opportunity: if an aircraft swap results in a downgrade of the product you booked (for example a flat bed business class seat becomes a recliner seat due to the change in aircraft) you should at least be able to either cancel for a full refund in order to rebook a better flight (perhaps a more convenient time or routing), and you may be able to switch to a different flight with the flat bed business class product you originally booked. In other cases, passengers with a less than ideal itinerary, for example with one or two connections, have been able to rebook to the nonstop flight in the event of a flight change that makes their originally booked itinerary misconnect, adds another connection or significantly lengthens a layover.
Note that airline IT systems usually don't take into account the difference in products (flat bed business class vs. recliner business class) and they may change your class of service altogether. This happened for a United Economy Plus flight that I booked recently, which underwent a flight schedule change and aircraft change. The new flight was rebooked in Economy, not Economy Plus, so I had to contact United to have the seat rebooked.
- Have a record of the original class of service, aircraft type, and seat you originally booked. Confirmations may not contain all this information, so it's good to keep a screenshot or printout of the original aircraft, seat configuration, and seat assignment
- As tempting as it is to ignore the schedule change emails when inundated with other work, try to get to it within 24 hours of receiving it to see if you need to act
- Contact United via the Chat function in the United App. You may have to wait 10-20 minutes, but it's usually faster than calling in
- Be patient: you may have to educated the agent on what's going on and why you shouldn't have to pay a change or seat selection fee, since United made the schedule change. At several points in my interaction the agent wanted to charge me a fee to select Economy Plus seating, even though that was the originally booked class of service.
Have you had to deal with a flight schedule change or aircraft change recently?
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I have been a longtime subscriber to Expertflyer.com. You can set alerts for just about anything from aircraft equipment changes to award seat availability to specific seat assignment availability. Alerts are immediate and give you ample time to fix whatever the airline has changed before it’s too late. Lifesaver.