What Happens If Your Airline Changes Your Flight Times?

Airfare Question of the Month
by , SmarterTravel Staff
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Editor's Note: This story was originally published on June 12, 2009. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Airfare Question of the Month, Jessica Labrencis, passenger rights.

Dear Jessica,

What happens if I want to cancel my flight after the original flight itinerary has been changed by the airline? Can I get a refund?
—J.P.

Dear J.P.,

For one reason or another, airlines frequently change their scheduled flights ahead of departure. If you've booked far in advance, you're likely to receive an email from your airline informing you of a difference in the flight you originally booked and your new flight. Sometimes, the change is merely the difference of a few minutes, but other times, it can be a more significant change of several hours or even days.

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Do you have any recourse if your airline makes a significant change? Well, as with most airline issues, it depends on the specific situation. In general, however, if your airline changed your flight times by more than 90 minutes, you will be eligible for a full refund.

When you receive a schedule change email from an airline, look over the new itinerary carefully. Make sure the airline has left ample time for you to make any connections, and check to see if the departure or arrival times have changed drastically. If the new flights no longer work for your travel plans, call your airline to inquire about your options. The airline may accommodate you on flights closer to your original flight times, or may offer you a refund if they are unable to schedule you on a different flight.

Keep in mind, however, that if even if you get a refund, you'll also be without a flight. If it happens close to your departure date, you may be stuck paying more than you anticipated for a new, last-minute flight.

 
 
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