Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Flight Cancellations & Upgrades

I'm beginning to think the "travel gods" don't want me to go to the eastern seaboard.  Another (4th) east coast flight plan diverted.  A flight that was supposed to connect via JFK got outright cancelled 3 days after I bought it!  

Because I am anal about checking statuses of flights, I caught it before they even got a chance to notify me (Delta/KLM flight combo). 

Normally JFK is not even close to my first choice of airports to fly to or from.  That's how much I want to go back to Barcelona this year. 

When a flight cancellation happens, you are usually notified by phone.  Online you'll be asked to click "accept" (not all airlines offer this), which may give you the chance of choosing another flight if the difference in the new flight time they've assigned you is too far off course.  I've never been successful in getting a better flight until now. 

I braced myself for what is usually a min half an hour call while they read up on what happened and tell me they have given me the best option and that I'll have to stick with it.  Last time it happened, I ended up with an 8 hour layover at JFK -- That was the best they could offer!  Makes for a very long day when the rest of the journey was going to take another 14 hours. 

The fellow I talked to this time looked at my file, at what was assigned --1 hr 35 min layover at JFK! --- Way too close for comfort for an international flight when you have to change terminals, go through xray again, even with Nexus...and that's with no eating (Don't trust airplane food anymore).  I originally had a 3 hr 50 min layover.  Plus there are no guarantees the long awaited new Delta terminal will be open by then.

He paused and asked me what I wanted?  Can you believe it?  Threw me right off.  I was already online looking at all my options.  So I hesitated for a few seconds and decided to bravely tell him the flight I'd really like, which connected in Amsterdam, not the US.  He told me to hold while he looked into it.  I knew I was pushing it (had another flight connecting in Atlanta as back up) as it cost 50% more than what I paid, but was an ideal flight. 

Ten minutes later he came back on and told me he had sent the request to another department because he wasn't authorized to make such changes.  But he could refund the economy comfort fee I had already paid for the cancelled flight.  And should I want that class of seat for the new flight, I'd have to deal with KLM. 

I was a bit confused as I wasn't sure if he meant I got the way better flight for free or I had to wait to see if it got approved?  He confirmed it was set (signed out and back in and saw it too) and I'd get an email once the changes firmed up.  I was flabbergasted to say the least.  The new outbound flights meant I got economy comfort for free.  The journey home wasn't affected so I'll still have to pay for the upgrade.  Trivial issue when I just got $600 worth of flight value for free. 

Speaking of flight bonuses, D finally got a chance to experience KLM's World Business on our last flight to Munich as we paid for the upgrade last minute.  He had been extremely curious about it ever since I came home with those Delft houses (gift from KLM when you fly that class) last summer when I got upgraded for free. 

We didn't know they offered hugely discounted prices on the day of the flight at the check in computer terminals (when they have vacancy).  I guess what's left over are offered as free upgrade to Skymiles members?  You almost need a degree in airline upgrade policies to understand their algorithms.

Normally I don't use the check in terminals but I was too busy to have my boarding pass printed in advance.  They were asking $294 for the outbound leg ($428 if you were upgrading from economy vs economy comfort).  A normal outbound leg is in the 2K range so the discount was substantial.  So if you are in the market, check those terminals out before you go through security.

As our flights were "free" (points), we went for it.  The way back we didn't bother because the way there is when sleep/rest is more important to us.  I think it may have ruined D forever...

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