web Musings of The Global Traveller

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Too many flights (part 2 - schedule change hassles)

A couple of hours of my time gone for no good reason.

I got a call from an airline to say their schedule had changed and it affected an itinerary.

Marks awarded for being proactive, but marks taken off for not noticing the schedule changed forced an impossible connection (flight 1 arrives later than flight 2 departs) and more marks taken off for not realising the schedule change affected another half dozen or so similar itineraries.

After I got those sorted I wondered what other bookings were affected and so looked up my other 150 odd flights booked but unflown. Sure enough some more were non-trivially impacted to the point of misconnecting. For one the airline had cancelled 2 flights and rebooked on alternative flights. The problem was flight 2 arrived earlier than flight 1 departed!

If the TripIt site I reviewed yesterday can automatically identify schedule changes and highlight them, that will make life so much easier.

I admit I don't check for schedule changes as much as I should. I have a few rules of thumb to help:

  • Where the flights are longhaul flagship/prime routes with plenty of flights and I have long connections, I don't bother checking (unless I'm told) - especially if the origin/destination are slot constrained or have curfews. For here the potential for schedule changes significant enough to disrupt my plans is low - most schedule changes are likely to be an hour or less. An exception might be if an airline drops a route. For example when United stopped flying between New York and London.
  • Where the flights are domestic trunk routes with plenty of flights and I am not connecting to or from a flight that is infrequent, I don't bother checking. For here most schedule changes are likely to be only a few minutes.
  • For flights that are infrequent to/from destinations that are hard to get to (eg few flights, limited availability, have schedule timing issues or visa implications) and/or have multiple tight connections, then I check a month or so before the trip and again closer to departure. For here even minor changes may be enough to cause significant disruption to my travel.
  • In other cases I don't check much - mainly when I remember.

The last two categories I really should check more regularly to save myself some grief.

Finally, here is a blog entry from a year ago on schedule changes and tools to check your itineraries.

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