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Hop on an earlier flight -- and pay $50 penalty

Hop on an earlier flight -- and pay $50 penalty

May 29th, 2009, 09:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,116
<<..Also, if the airline is so concerned of travelers cheating, taking advantage of the different prices, than why not apply the $50 fee ONLY IF THE EARLIER FLIGHT IS ACTUALLY MORE EXPENSIVE THAN THE ORIGINAL, LATER FLIGHT? That would make more sense.>>
mm - you are forgetting that one of the reasons some tickets are cheaper is that they must be purchased in advance, and ON THE DAY OF TRAVEL the only ticket available for that earlier flight is likely to be a full fare one. You can't compare the value of the advance purchase ticket you hold with what the new flight "would have cost" if you had bought it in advance, rather must compare it to what it would cost today - and that ain't likely to be less than your discount advance purchase.
In the crazy mix that is yield management airline pricing there are all sorts of considerations and factors. Bottom line, though, is that it has made air travel cheaper than it ever has been and more people than ever are able to fly. (And on some days I am not sure that's a good thing, LOL.) In the "old days" when a passenger could easily just switch from one flight to another (sometimes even across airlines) everyone was paying the same fare - and it was a full fare. That's not the way it works these days. You CAN still travel that way - but you will be paying a heck of a lot more by purchasing only full fare tickets.
Seamus is offline  
May 30th, 2009, 08:43 AM
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Seamus, I was suggesting to compare the prices between the two flights, 3 hours apart, on the same day. Which is very easy to check, for both a travler, going online, and the agent at the gate....

Of course, we all know airline ticket prices change.... Sometimes within hours... The same flight I paid for $137 (before taxes) 3-4 weeks ahead (and the same, a week or two later), was about $255 the morning of her flight. Of course, we all know it could be the opposit, prices plummet on the day of departure, if the flight is not selling very well...
mamamia2 is offline  
May 30th, 2009, 12:08 PM
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Actually, mm, that does not happen very often these days (last minute discounts, that is) even with lighter loads, as capacity has been reduced. In the situation you mention, if you had paid the $50 change fee it would still be less than the $255 walk up fare by $68. All comes down to what's more important to you - the extra bucks or the extra hours waiting time. Been there myself more than once, and sometimes I cough up the $ and sometimes just suck up the extra airport time. If flexibility is always more important than cost then you buy higher priced, flexible fare tickets. If the cost is paramount, you buy the more restricted but cheaper fare and resign yourself to living within the restrictions.
Don't look for this kind of fee for this, fee for that, we really will enforce ticket restrictions to change in the near future. Even Southwest has announced they are adding fees for taking animals in the cabin and for checking a third or overweight bag (and they have made a major advertising point about no extra fees.)
Life would be so much easier if I were able to just hop in my private jet; damn the mix up at birth that sent me to the lovely folks who raised me rather than delivering me directly to Buckingham Palace where I clearly belong. ;-)
Seamus is offline  
May 30th, 2009, 12:53 PM
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I think your daughter got a bargain, and maybe you just have to let it go. Usually flight changes mean a fee to change, plus any difference in the fare. Those last-minute walk-up prices are the full-economy fares and would be way more expensive than the original fare she paid. These fees are not new, and this could have cost her hundreds of dollars more.

Whether or not this is "fair" or "unfair" is beside the point. The terms of the purchase of her ticket mean that she pays a fee to change the flight. She agreed to that by virtue of purchasing that particular fare. I always read the fine print.

She got home early and she only had to pay $50 to do it. It's a good deal. Honest. I'd look at it that way.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
May 30th, 2009, 01:25 PM
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I called Delta last night and the agent told me that if you go to the gate and get on the standby list then you will pay the fee if you get on, so you might as well get the confirmed seat in advance.

As far as booking code goes, when I asked about the policy the DL agent didn't say that it was any different for different booking codes (though I am sure it is different for refundables). I think he was assuming, correctly, that I was asking about non-refundable fares. So, I believe the policy applies to all non-refundable fares.

Delta's policy is different from United's. So, mamamia2, if DD went to the gate for the earlier flight and it had been United then she would have gotten on with no charge if space was available.

I was wondering about Continental's. Because of that, I expect that the days of United's fee-free standby policy are numbered. Seems like United has been emulating CO's policies lately. UA recently did away with the policy of issuing vouchers for the fare difference if a fare dropped and increased award mileage requirements.

So, some airline executive said that going standby at no extra charge on an earlier flight is cheating? And they weren't issuing fees for that simply to raise revenue (like phone-line fees, baggage fees, ...) for services that were previously included in the fare? Were they being stupid to be "cheated" for all of those years? (in some cases, like United and flyi, they were being stupid all those years, but for different reasons)

Why did they allow their evil customers to cheat them for years and years, decades? Maybe it is because that is what the customers wanted? and competitive pressure required it?

Some of the posters here seem to have a high regard for the airlines' rules, that they are inviolate and inflexible. Well the sacred rules of the airlines used to provide fee-free standby for earlier flights. Those pax that took advantage of that policy were playing by the rules! So how could that be cheating?

USAir has a similar policy to Delta. It was a surprise to me when I learned it. I recall that mr gail flies US and UA. Maybe he experienced fee-free stanby on the US before the policy change and then again after it. Or maybe he paid on US and not on UA. In any case, I don't think he is a cheater, but a good customer.

mamamia2, I thought that it was a simple matter that you learned the relatively new policy the hard way. But now I realize that you really are a whining, airline law criminal, who was trying to take food out of the mouths of the airline shareholders babies.

I imagine that there is an airline executives forum and years ago an exec posted that they were being cheated by their customers. The other execs responded by saying it wasn't cheating, it was standard policy, the customer is always right, and quit whining. Every few months a new exec would post the same thing and get the same response. Eventually, the airlines fell on really hard times and suddently, when a new-to-the-forum exec made the same post, the other execs posted that s/he was right and that they ought to do something about this cheating.

Personally, I have finally reached a point where I am getting tired of the customer-unfriendly policies of the airlines.

mamamia2, I don't think the best advice for you is that you read the rulebook before you buy any ticket.
mrwunrfl is offline  
May 30th, 2009, 01:39 PM
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What would have been justice in this case would be that:
- a full fare passenger was a no-show on the earlier flight and it went with an empty seat
- the full fare passenger arrived in time for the later flight but it was fully booked
- the OP's daughter volunteers to be bumped and gets a free travel voucher
- the full fare passenger takes their ticket to another airline

Another scenario would be a passenger misconnects with the earlier flight and somebody doesn't get to go on the later flight - at some cost to Delta.

In either case, it would have been beneficial to the other passenger (to me or you, potentially) for DD to have gone on the earlier flight.
mrwunrfl is offline  
May 30th, 2009, 02:23 PM
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mamamia2, I thought that it was a simple matter that you learned the relatively new policy the hard way.

It's been the policy for some time now. I want to say 6 years but I really don't remember.
Patty is online now  
May 30th, 2009, 07:43 PM
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It's been a lot longer than six years. I remember checking in for a flight in the mid-90s. The weather was forecast to go to pot later that morning, about the time my flight would leave, and the counter agent told me I could get out on an earlier flight that was leaving in 20 minutes. I asked her if I'd have to pay the change fee. She told me, no, since they were making the offer to me. I took her up on her offer.

The point is, there's nothing new about these fees.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
May 30th, 2009, 08:32 PM
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You said it so well, so much better than me, mrwunrfl. And I have absolutely nothing to add to it. Thank you.
mamamia2 is offline  
May 31st, 2009, 12:41 PM
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Ok, one more thing, if anybody is still reading this.

Besides raising revenue, this kind of fee decreases cost. You now know, like many others, that you will have to pay a fee to change. The fee will tend to keep you, like many others, from calling, going to the checkin counter, or lining up at the gate. This reduces the overall employee workload. That means fewer employees are needed. The people who know about the fee and pay it, or the ones who don't know about it, now interact with fewer employees. The individual employees that are left end up with an increased workload.

Six years ago? If you say so. I became aware of the USAir standby fee two or three years ago, after they made a schedule change on my flight. I am not in the habit of trying to get on earlier flights -- because I am usually on them since the early flights are cheaper. I did pay United a $25 fee to get a confirmed seat on a later flight, the day before departure and was happy about it.
mrwunrfl is offline  
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