How To Take Advantage Of A Flight Change
A few weeks back I shared my story on how American Airlines switched me into an absolutely ridiculous flight change. I had booked first class flights to Maui for my wife’s upcoming birthday (a $9,000 vacation for a few hundred dollars), and of course a few weeks after booking it I got a dreaded flight change email. American Airlines was keeping us on the same route, a connection through Phoenix, but now we had a 26 minute layover. In the article I laid out the different options I had and readers chimed in with what they thought I should do as well. I finally had some time to work on it this week and I am happy to say that I turned this flight change into a 190K American Airlines AAdvantage miles win. I’ll show you how take advantage of a flight change and breakdown my win in the article.
Original Flight Booking
After searching endlessly for good award flights to Maui I decided to accept a slight defeat and book standard business class for 50K AA AAdvantage miles each way per person, or 200,000 miles in total. The goal was to book lie flat to Hawaii, at least for one of the 4 legs of our trip. I even searched flying to Maui from West Coast cities to see if I could piece it together that way but it just wasn’t working. Delta had space on their reopened direct route to Honolulu, but the cost was just too high. Everything else was overly expensive, or had a bad product not worth the cost.
The 100K roundtrip per person price tag was by far the best I could find. The lie flat option on American, connecting through Dallas, was quite a bit more expensive too. I only had 225K American Airlines miles in total to play with so that was a lost cause. Overall, I was okay with the booking, knowing I got a good deal with the way today’s prices are, even if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted.
Using The Flight Change To My Advantage
Once this flight change came through I figured I needed to do something. I didn’t want to risk a 26 minute layover even if it was an early flight, leaving at 7:40 AM. That improved my chances of it working out, for sure, but still too close for my liking. I decided it was worth the time investment to see if I could do better.
Remember that lie flat flight through Dallas I mentioned above? That was still showing space but the cost was 145,000 miles per person, or 95,000 more miles per person then I paid for our flights. This was now my goal.
The flight had a 50 minute layover, which was twice as good as our current flight, plus it was the very first flight of the day. I wasn’t super excited about that 3 AM wake up call but the juice was worth the squeeze in this case.
Calling American Airlines To Change Our Flights
I called the AA customer service number (800-433-7300) and expected an 8 hour hold time. Surprisingly they said they could call me back in about 25 minutes. Why doesn’t every customer service department have this feature already? Wouldn’t you know it, they called back right at about 25 minutes. I should note I have no status with American either.
I got a very friendly agent on the phone and said I didn’t feel comfortable with the 26 minute layover. He agreed that was not the best and asked if I had another option in mind already. I fed him the details of the flight through Dallas and said I prefer that layover and like that it is the first flight of the day, which limits our exposure to delays.
At this point, even though I knew it would likely work, I was waiting for him to say that the new flight was way too expensive, and I would need to pay the difference. After a few seconds he found the flight and said it shouldn’t be a problem. His computer did keep crashing when he tried to book it so he had to send it to the ticketing desk. He said they would have no issues doing it and I should see an email confirmation soon. I hung up with my fingers crossed. About 30 minutes later I had the new flight information in my inbox.
We are now flying lie flat to Hawaii, for a cost of only 50,000 miles a person! I call that a win every day, and twice on Sunday.
How To Take Advantage Of A Flight Change: Final Thoughts
That old saying, take lemons and make lemonade, definitely applies here. While flight changes are annoying, and can be time consuming, they also offer you some opportunities. Depending on the airline, you should be able to parlay the flight change into a better route or product etc. That is, of course, assuming that you didn’t already have optimal flight booked.
I know many play the rebooking game at another level these days. They will choose the cheapest option available, on their preferred days, and then wait for the flight change email to come through so they can switch it to the better route. This can lead to a ton in savings and you have a good chance of it happening right now. Just be prepared to take that terrible routing if it doesn’t happen or to rebook something else at a much higher price last minute.
Have you ever taken advantage of a flight change for a big win? Share your experience in the comments.
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