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SNA->SLC->CDG min layover? Airline changed my flight.

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Hello everyone,

My husband and I are planning our first trip to Paris this April. Our apartment is booked and air tickets purchased, so I figured we were good to go. Then I got an email from Orbitz tonight that the airline -- Delta/AirFrance -- has *significantly* changed our flight itinerary, without any confirmation much less input from us. I'm expecting I'm going to need to place some calls to get this fixed, but I'm hoping the collective wisdom of this forum will help me know what to say to straighten this out.

We're flying from our home airport, SNA/Orange County, layover in Salt Lake, then overnight to CDG/Paris. Since it's an international flight, and my first since I was a kid, when I booked the flights I scheduled in a hefty layover on purpose. Our original itinerary had us leaving SNA at 10am and getting to SLC at 1pm, with the flight to Paris leaving at 4:45pm -- so a 3 hour and 45 minute layover. Even flying domestic, I don't like to schedule less than an hour and a half layover on the way out, and added padding to that for an international flight.

Per the email I got tonight, we're now leaving SNA at 1:15pm and arriving at SLC at 4:02pm, with the Paris flight still leaving at 4:45pm -- so a 43 minute layover, before an international flight. We're planning on traveling light, carry-on only, but I have a joint condition which occasionally makes walking after a flight difficult/painful/slow. I won't know how bad it is until we deplane in SLC.

IMO, this change is in no way acceptable, and I'll be contacting Orbitz, Delta, and AirFrance about it, but probably not until Tuesday, given the holiday weekend in the US. I can only assume they cancelled the 10am flight entirely, but in any case they are going to fix it, and I would expect at no charge to us.

So here's where I need your help. Given SLC, Delta/AirFrance, and the international nature of this flight -- and that missing our flight would cost us at least a day in Paris, to say nothing of the hassle with the apartment -- what's a realistic minimum layover? Is an hour and a half doable? Two hours? Are there any immigration proceedures we'll have to do in SLC? Or only once we get to CDG?

Also, any tips for dealing with Orbitz/Delta/AirFrance and getting them to fix this?

Thanks in advance,
Samantha/gc

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    An outbound international flight is really no different from a domestic flight. There is no emigration procedure or any government passport control when you exit the US. You will show your passport at checkin at SNA, and maybe when you board in SLC.

    You'll just walk from one SLC gate to another. AirFrance doesn't fly to SLC, so the plane will a Delta plane.

    Depending on the layout of SLC you may need to pass through security again but I doubt that - I don't know SLC.

    That said I think 45min is too short a layover for any flight. If you booked your ticket through Orbitz then call them up and get rescheduled. You should do some research online beforehand to find alternate flights you find acceptable. You don't have to accept the change they made. You have the option to get booked on a different, more acceptable flight, or you can ask for a complete refund.

    There is no need to wait until Tuesday. Private businesses like Orbitz or Delta are staffed every day.

    I'm not sure if you can call up Delta directly, but it's worth a shot. I would leave AF out of this for now - you won't be on any AF equipment.

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    45 minutes in SLC for a DL-DL connection is fine.

    However, Delta is will known for how well they will handle these changes. A simple call to them and you will undoubtedly be moved to an earlier flight out of SNA.

    Call Delta directly first as it will be faster and easier than Orbitz. If they cannot service the booking, then call Orbitz.

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    Just to let you know Delta will proabably tell you to contact Orbitz since the reservation is from them. Doesn't hurt to try, maybe you'll get a nice customer service rep. who may offer suggestions but the change will probably have to go through your Orbitz reservation.

    Leaving earlier for a longer flight connection should solve the problem. Asking for a wheelchair or one of those car devices to meet you to take you from gate to gate is another. I would look up the airport in question to get a layout of their terminal to look at the distance between gates. You can also check on the flight you are taking to see what their percentage is for on time arrival.

    Also I just read online if you get a change such as this that you can fight it. If you are up to that look into it.

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    The computer rebooked you when there was some change in the first flight time/number. It was programmed to choose the shortest allowable connection time in SLC. The computer didn't ask for any input from you, just following its orders. It happens to all of us if you travel often enough.

    The notice you receive states the change. Because it is significant, you can accept it, ask for a different choice, or ask for a full refund. Some of the airlines send you an email that says "by clicking here, you agree to the change." It looks like you want to ask for a different choice.

    As Rizzuto states, there are several earlier DL flights that you might prefer, including
    DL 4734 11:13
    DL 1613 10:11
    DL 2291 7:05

    If you are a DL frequent flyer, call the number on your card with your itinerary info and see if the agent will change it. Often they will. If not, then call Orbitz. While on the phone, request the wheelchair assistance, choose your seats, etc.

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    Thanks for all the advice, guys.

    While I was preparing to call Orbitz customer service today, I noticed the situation was actually even worse -- while the email I had received stated that our flight had been changed to one with only a 43 minute layover, my account on Orbitz actually listed no first flight at all -- just the flight from SLC to CDG, and the two return flights with layover. No info, no indication on how they expected us to get from southern California to Salt Lake City, when we had paid for and been previously confirmed on a SNA->SLC flight.

    So obviously I called Orbitz, even more concerned. There was some confusion because I booked the tickets as AirFrance, but certain legs of the flights are operated by Delta, and I had both a Delta confirmation number, an AirFrance confirmation number, and of course an Orbitz confirmation number as well.

    The Orbitz CS I spoke with put me on hold to call AirFrance, then on hold to call Delta (Orbitz really needs to get more than one song on repeat for their hold music; even Canon in D gets obnoxious after awhile). They had to route me through the same layover city, which was fine since I wanted the flight out of SLC, which lands at CDG later than most US->Paris flights do. But the Orbitz homepage was showing *no* AirFrance-operated-by-Delta flights for SNA->SLC for my date, and only one flight at 11am on Delta, but Orbitz couldn't switch my record from AirFrance to Delta, even though they're really functionally the same airline at this point.

    So several minutes on hold, listening to Canon in D over and over, and the Orbitz CS rep returns saying that Delta says they can get me on my original 10am flight, but that there will be a change-ticket fee of $225 *each* for my husband and I. To get us on the same flight that we booked originally, and had not requested any changes to. I explained to the CS rep that I wasn't going to pay $450 for a change I never requested, and offered to handle it directly with Delta if that would be easier.

    She put me on hold again to transfer me to the Delta rep, but the hold ended up going on for several minutes rather than a couple of seconds. She finally came back, said she'd been able to explain the situation to Delta and they had me back on the original flight, no fee, and to expect a new itinerary email from Delta shortly.

    So in the end, Orbitz was able to straighten it out, and other than a bit more stress than I needed just about now, no harm no foul. I figure this had to have been a computer glitch, but I can't figure out how it bumped us off the original flight, but Delta was able to put us right back on (after asking for $450 to do it, of course). Overbooking the flight, I assume? It doesn't inspire confidence, but my itinerary emails arrived and everything looks fine (except that I can't seem to save my seat selections on Delta.com now -- is that normal?), so I'll just keep an eye on it and hope for the best.

    Thanks for the advice, everyone. It was really helpful going in there armed with info on how short of a layover I was willing to deal with.

    As far as the wheelchair assistance, that wouldn't have been any help at all. It's a variable disease, and I literally do not know if it will be just fine or absolutely debilitating until I walk off the plane. I've seen plenty of people wait for wheelchairs to get to the gate, so I can't imagine that would be at all helpful with a short layover. If we had had to live with the 43 minute layover -- which turned out to not even be an option, seeing as Delta had cancelled our first flight completely -- I would have just carried my pain meds and travel cane with me (which I will anyway), and relied on my husband to help me get to our gate on time. Especially in light of this screw up with our tickets, forgive me if I don't want to rely on the airlines/airports for anything beyond the absolute minimum.

    Thanks again all,
    Samantha/gc

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    I try never to book through resellers such as Orbitz and prefer to book directly with the airline in case there are any problems. I don't want to be on hold with a third party and prefer to deal with the actual airline.

    Flights changes/rebooking are very common on all airlines so you shouldn't be surprised when this happens. Sometimes they change what type of plane is being used so everyone gets kicked out of the system and rebooked. It's usually not a big deal and you just call the airline and tell them the rebooked connection doesn't work for you and find another. You seem to be confusing >>>>has *significantly* changed our flight itinerary,<<< with canceling a flight which is not what you were told at all.

    >>>If we had had to live with the 43 minute layover -- which turned out to not even be an option, seeing as Delta had cancelled our first flight completely<<<

    You are blaming Delta for Orbitz not having your first flight listed? I think it's Orbitz that shouldn't have dropped the flight and should be responsible for fixing it. They shouldn't have even mentioned a change fee and fixed it with Delta on their first call.

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    Actually it was Delta that dropped the ball. *Delta* claimed that the ticket had already been voided and re-booked once, which I didn't request, but it showed up that way because of Delta messing with the flight in their own computer systems. When the Orbitz rep explained to Delta that I hadn't requested any changes, and that this was due to *Delta's* mix up, then and only then did Delta agree to drop the $450 fee.

    I originally went with Orbitz because both Delta and AirFrance were giving me the run around about AirFrance-operated-by-Delta flights, but Orbitz had the flights I wanted listed right there, without significant markup. When this all went wrong I was kicking myself for dealing with a third party rather than directly with the airline, but in the end it was *Orbitz* that worked out *Delta's* screw up for me. I think the Orbitz rep being able to look in her computer system and see what I had originally booked, and that I had not requested any changes, probably helped convince the Delta rep not to charge me the bogus $450 more so than my word over the phone would have.

    So while I can see how it's sometimes best to deal directly with the airlines, in this situation it was Orbitz who fixed Delta's screw up, and Orbitz who won back my business with strong customer service. Not Delta.

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    There is really nothing to think about. You need to call the airline or your travel agent and ask what is MCT - minimum connecting time for this particular airport& gate (I assume it is CGD since you did not mention it).
    Normally, 45 min should be sufficient if the flight is not late and considering that you're traveling with no checked in luggage.

    So you have couple options:
    1- if the MCT is met , you can take your chances and fly hoping there will no flight delays. If the flight is late, the airline MUST put you on the next available (even other airline) flight to reach your destination on time.
    2- demand the change of flights/ connecting cities. The issuing agent has to do this if the rerouting occurred NOT because of the passenger's fault
    3- demand the full refund of the ticket and purchase a new ticket. Again, they must refund the money if passenger is not happy with the new itinerary

    From 15 years I'm in the industry, the airlines have never refused to refund money if they changed itineraries that passengers were nto happy about.

    Unfortunately, these itinerary/time changes happen and you just need to deal with them

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