Schedule Changes disrupt vacation

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Aug 12th, 2008, 03:34 AM
  #1
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Schedule Changes disrupt vacation

Hi experienced Fodor's travelers. In May, we booked a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Greece in late Sept. using Northwest FF miles. East coast US to Athens. Initial itenerary was via Newark to CDG to ATH, and home direct from ATH to EWR (Newark) flights were on NW's partner, Continental. About a month ago we got our first schedule change email indicating that the flight home was canceled and we were now leaving ATH at 4:50 am and spending 8 hrs in Amsterdam/Schiphol. After researching what we could do in Amsterdam in that time we were resigned to it. Now we get a second schedule change email moving our Amsterdam to EWR flight up so that we only have 3 hrs in Schiphol but now have 9 HOURS IN EWR before our little connecting flight to Portland, Maine.

We are flying home on Oct. 4 and I believe what is happening is that Continental is reducing service to Greece after Oct. 1.

Looking for any help/advice on how to get this dreadful schedule changed. I have researched other flights from Teh through JFK, ATL or CDG and also to Boston on NW's other partners (Air France, Delta, etc.) Does anyone have experience on how to get them to change to a more pleasant schedule?
cindyj is offline  
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Aug 12th, 2008, 05:36 AM
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First, CO is making EWR - ATH seasonal, so it's canceled service from 10/1 through 5/31.

Same thing happened to us. Daughter's return flight from ATH - EWR in Dec was canceled (she's studying fall semester in Athens so flight out in Sept was left intact).

I also spent a lot of time working out possible alternatives (such as partners DL, KL, AF) only to find out in talking to several CO reps that NONE of their partners were "picking up the tickets" (to use their terms). The only options they gave us resulted in almost certain missed flights (less than 1 hr connection in CDG) or overnight connections (which wasn't acceptable).

Bottom line: we canceled entire trip (got full refund) and got nice, one-stop schedule on BA with doable connections. And the tickets were cheaper!

Call CO if you haven't already. Have some options ready, but be prepared to start over. I realize your options may be limited using FF miles, but BA was a possbility in "picking up the tickets" from ATH - EWR/JFK (but for us the connections still didn't work).

Good luck
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Aug 12th, 2008, 06:07 AM
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You have to call NW, not CO, as you are using NW miles. Ask the rep to check out any other possibilities. It should be free but if nothing else is available then you're either stuck with what you have or you have a choice of canceling the ticket.

I'm afraid that's about the only 2 choices you have.

Airlines don't guarantee schedules.
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Aug 12th, 2008, 06:39 AM
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I am on the third "itinerary change", from Delta for a late Sept trip. If the equipment is taken out of service it is not easy to find alternative other than the airline change that they .made
longboatkey is offline  
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Aug 12th, 2008, 07:02 AM
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Yep, call NW not CO. Got wrapped up in my own situation.
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Aug 12th, 2008, 07:32 AM
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For mulitple flight options, try http://www.skyteam.com/skyteam if you havent already. Shows you all the options from ATH to PWM. Hopefully will give you ideas. Perhaps fly back into BOS and drive up to Portland?

I'm assuming you are going on KLM 1572 from ATH to AMS and then CO from AMS to EWR. CO has a 110pm flight to PWM, guess they have bumped you to the evening flight and that is why you have the 9 hr layover. There are multiple options (DL flies direct from ATH and AMS, KLM from AMS) so talk to the NWA FF desk.

Otherwise, if stuck going into EWR, consider taking a flight up to Boston (fairly frequent from EWR on CO) and drive back to Portland.

Good luck
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Aug 12th, 2008, 07:35 AM
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I realize a nine-hour layover is not fun, especially after a long transatlantic flight, but I've done it. I got through it.

I'd hate to see you have to cancel such a nice trip over this glitch. Look at it this way: You'll have a lot of time built in to get through immigration and customs and to account for possible delays or bad weather.

I hope you can get it changed though. Good luck.
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Aug 12th, 2008, 08:07 AM
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Hi Cindy,
Continental flies from Newark to Manchester, NH (MHT) nonstop a few times a day starting around 8am.

Look into flying to Manchester, renting a car and driving back to Portland. You could be home in less than the 9 hours you'd be hanging out at the Newark Airport.
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Aug 12th, 2008, 08:22 AM
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The same thing happened to me, but with United miles: I'd booked an award flight from DC to Nairobi, with a one day stopover in Zurich (arriving 8 am, leaving 9 am next morning). The flight to Zurich was on Lufthansa, and the flight change had us arriving at 6 pm, basically eliminating our day in Zurich.

I researched other options, called UA immediately, and politely told them that the change did not work for us, and asked to be moved to the best alternative flights I'd found (flying through Frankfurt instead of Munich, and arriving into Zurich at 9 am instead of 8). The agent hemmed and hawed a little bit in the beginning, and initially said that there was no award availability on those flights. At that point I emphasized the disruption to our plans, and asked if award availability could be opened up, since we had originally booked the flights specifically because we would have the day layover in Zurich, etc. Ultimately, a supervisor was able to get authorization to open up award availability where there was none and get us on our chosen alternative flight. I'm not sure if it mattered that the new flight from DC-Frankfurt is on United, rather than Lufthansa (i.e., whether they have more of an ability to do this with their own airline's flights), and I'm not as familiar with NW/CO and their policies, but I would call and emphasize the disruption to your long-planned trip, state that the change doesn't work for you, and insist (politely, of course) on being accommodated on a better alternative.
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Aug 12th, 2008, 08:24 AM
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Cindy - I am sorry. I dealt with the same type of a situation yesterday. I have air france tickets booked via delta miles and the flight home was canceled. I only found out because I called Delta because I could not locate my confirmation - only my daughters.

I asked when they were going to let ME know? She said the flight home was not till November so they would have let me know in Oct. I inquired as to the fact that my outbound was on 9-25? Anyway - while not fun, I would do the 9 hour lay over. Buy a pass to a club for the day if possible - it makes it easier to handle imo.
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Aug 12th, 2008, 05:17 PM
  #11
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You are all so helpful! I checked the SkyTeam website, that is a great reference that I will bookmark for future use since my husband travels on NW a lot for work!

So I called the NW FF number and a very nice young man, Cody, rebooked us on Delta flights from ATH to ATL and then another direct flight from ATL to PWM. The best news is that we're leaving ATH at 12:30 p.m. instead of 4:50 a.m. and arriving home at about the same time!!!

I can't emphasize enough how helpful you all were AND how nice NW was. I think the length of the layover was the kickover, and the fact that I had a solution in hand when I called was key!
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Aug 14th, 2008, 07:22 AM
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Just wanted to chime in with another vote for checking ahead for alternatives to the airline's suggestions.

We're booked in February with Delta (using FF miles) for a trip to Yellowstone. After several minor schedule changes came one for our return which put us arriving in Salt Lake City from Bozeman a half hour AFTER our flight to Atlanta departed. A later flight from SLC wouldn't work as we'd be unable to make it home to Pensacola.

Having read this post to see what you guys suggested, I went to the Delta site, found an earlier flight from Bozeman with FF seats available, and called them.

Long story short - they rescheduled us, apologizing for the problem and thanking me for having a solution ready for them when I called.

Now let's hope they don't change things too much between now and February. But if they do, at least I'll know what to do before I call.

Fran
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Aug 15th, 2008, 01:54 PM
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johnathome - thank you for the link to the SkyTeam website. It's very helpful.

I just "discovered" that the third leg of my trip from Venice was rescheduled. I experienced many of the same issues and answers the previous posters documented.

The original return trip from Europe was VCE/CDG, CDG/ATL and ATL/SNA on November 15. While checking into another trip scheduled for February, I decided to take a look at my itinerary for the Europe trip. That's when I found the schedule change which had me on a flight out of ATL that left one hour before the flight from CDG arrived.

I called Delta immediately. Got pretty much the same reaction as others - that Delta would have contacted me in mid-October and put me on other flights! Well, after about an hour of going through options they booked me on a different flight out of VCE with my final airport now being LAX. The flight that left out of ATL was the last of the day to SNA so there was no option to fly into SNA on November 15.

Well, I was not happy with the new arrangement and my husband refused to fly into LAX. I went to the SkyTeam website and got the list of every possible combination of flights to get me from VCE to SNA. The best option was to take the original flights that I had booked (BTW - booked these flights pack in December!) to get to ATL and then switch over to a Continental flight to get to SNA.

When I called Delta back, they wouldn't put me on the flights I had chosen for two reasons. First, Delta said the original flights (VCE/CDG and CDG/ATL) were now completely booked and second, since the new ATL/SNA flight was on Continental they couldn't book me on it. Continental may be a SkyTeam member, but Delta would only put me on a code share flight. Delta's solution was for me to either stay on the flights that got me to LAX or cancel the trip and get a refund.

I did check to see if I could book on another airline for the same price or less, but the prices were all much higher than what I paid to Delta.

So now we are flying VCE/JFK and JFK/ATL on November 15, spending the night at a hotel by the Atlanta airport and flying to SNA on Sunday morning.

Delta did nothing for us. Wouldn't pay for the hotel room, wouldn't pay for the shuttle service from LAX (which was their first choice of flights to put us on), wouldn't upgrade us to help make up for the inconvenience, wouldn't (at first) even give us a seat assignment on the VCE/JFK flight (which is the only thing we finally had taken care of) and wouldn't book us on that much more convenient Continental flight.

Somehow I think that if I had just kept my original flight schedule and shown up at the Atlanta airport one hour after the connecting flight had left, Delta would have found a way to put me on that Continental flight.

In the future, I will be checking my itineraries weekly! Or booking everything through Orbitz so I get an immediate notification of any change.

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Aug 15th, 2008, 02:05 PM
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Cindy - I hate LAX too. I ended up changing my flights again yesterday to actually fly in and out of SNA myself. I understand. We do fly out of LAX when traveling with a large group (see: price) and to avoid lay overs at times. We had a nightmare getting to Europe with a flight out of DFW (from LAX) last year and I try now to do non-stop. By chance did you look out of Milan? That might have had better options for you - but that part of your trip did not seem to be the issue.

When I looked for a variety of other flights myself online I was amazed at how it changed minute by minute..and I could get a flight that routed me from ATL to JFK to LHR but not just from JFK to LHR etc. Weird. I was even going to spend the night in NYC and then fly out the next morning ect.

Anyway - I would NOT use Orbitz. I have found airlines directly to be far more helpful when they can work with you directly. JMO based on experience with canceling and rebooking via Orbitz.
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