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One of my many pet peeves about Delta.com is that when you go HERE to look at your current list of upcoming flights, and you have a schedule change, you will not see it. As you can see from my list of upcoming flights with Delta, I would not have known about any flight or seat changes or problems unless I click on each and every one. This is MOST frustrating.
This was one of the GREATEST things about AwardWallet, that is before Delta blocked them. AwardWallet would via email each day alert you to ANY changes like your seat or time or such. Now we must check for ourselves or wait to hope the Delta “IT” does send out a notice e-mail that your flight has changed. Truly this is unacceptable!
How often does a schedule change happen and what are the rules and can it help you? Also, do you just have to take it or do you have options once this does happen? I got into a back and forth a bit with a reader, Tyler who is a Delta Diamond, about how useful this tip is. He commented:
…”the schedule change rule, which doesn’t work as often as you say. I’d recommend putting a word of caution to users to not use that as the only way.”
he goes on to say, “Aren’t you a platinum who makes most of your MQM’s on credit card spend, and as such don’t fly too much? As a Diamond, I can assure you I’ve tried this many times before and while it can work, it is not promised and in fact is less than 50%. Also, you aren’t taking into account the chance of having your baggage delayed if you create a crazy itinerary and miss flights. If you weren’t a medallion, I would recommend against this approach altogether.”
Well I do fly a little now and then on Delta (as you can see above) and I do find this tip very useful for adjusting low level frequent flyer seats you were able to grab. I also find this especially useful if you are NOT a medallion and want FREE changes (Platinum or Diamond Medallion get free changes on points tickets all they want up to 72hrs before flight). But he does make a valid point that I needed to add more info abut this on the blog. Also, there are some very important things to keep in mind if you are going to try to utilize this little gem and I thank Tyler for reminding me to highlight this. So here we go with these important things to keep in mind:
1) Book as far out as you can, 300+ days
2) Add as many regional connections as you can
3) Know the rules of what is allowed
4) Check for other flights before you call
5) Know you may have to fly crazy routes
Let’s hit these one by one.
1) Delta schedules change all the time. Logic dictates that the farther out you can book the more likely you are to have a change and thus the reason to book as far out as you can stand.
2) Mainline jets don’t change times as much so watch out! Let’s take for example:
DL 252 daily flight nonstop 7h 55m
DEPARTS 4:00PM from Detroit-Wayne County, MI(DTW)
ARRIVES 5:55AM in Amsterdam, Netherlands(AMS)
This is a bus. One of the only real changes seasonally is that summer is often an A330-300 and winter the smaller A330-200. This flight almost never changes. If it does change, it is a few minutes here and there. However, regionals change all the time and the changes can be dramatic like 1 or 2 or even 3 hours. This takes us to the next point!
3) Just what is the rule for a schedule change. You can see it HERE and it says:
If a Delta schedule or routing change has delayed your departure or arrival by more than one hour, you may be eligible to select an alternate flight at no additional charge. Note that the below conditions may apply:
Your origin, destination and travel date must remain the same. Alternate flights must be available, and you can only modify once as subsequent changes may result in additional fees. Voluntary changes to other flights not impacted by a Delta schedule change may result in additional fees
So if more than 1 hour departure or landing and you are GOLDEN! Also keep in mind the total it is cumulative. That is, say from your ORIGINAL booking you have two 30+ min changes, you are now up to the 1 hour rule! But there is more to it that just this. For a domestic connection, you must have 30 min to make your flight. If you are in a wheelchair it is 60 min to make your flight. If it is “close” to this time most phone reps, when you explain to them that say 33 min to make a connection in ATL is never going to work, will work with you to change it at no charge! Also, internationally you need a 60 min connection to clear customs. Same thing, you can explain 63 min is in no way enough time to both wait for your luggage, wait in line at customs and make your connection flight! So use this to get the change you want!
4) This next one is a BIG ONE. Please, do your homework BEFORE you call Delta. Make it easy for the reps. This WILL help you so much if when you call you have checked to see what DELTA METAL flights you want to be on. With frequent flyer seats, on say AF or KLM, Delta cannot FORCE seats so even with a schedule change there must be low level seats open in whatever class of service you have picked. But, on Delta, they can do what they want and availability no longer matters. So, you have picked your flights, and your call will go something like this:
Hello (insert reps name). I have had a schedule change to my itinerary # (insert number) and it will not work for me. Could I please change the flights on (insert date) to DLxxxx and connection to Dlxxxx?
And you should be good to go. If they say things like, “I can not do that” or “this is outside the rules” or “you do not meet the min. time for a free change”, say, “OK I will leave it as is” and call back and try another rep. Or, ask for a supervisor to allow the change with the info above. Or, ask for the international reissue desk (when you are travailing internationally) as they often understand what will and will not work and can do it for you.
5) This is the one you must understand clearly. There is the slight chance you can get stuck with the crazy flights and seats you have picked (I am 100% successful to date but I always load up with regional fights) . While I am most upset by the current state of the ETV bump voucher rules, with a ton of connections you can have many chances for “bumpertunities” that is, to give up your seat for “delta dollars” giving you credit toward a later flight and then they can put you on much more direct flights!
So there you are! I will be adding this to my Essentials tab and apologize that I did not put this post up sooner than today! Like in golf, you must understand the rules if you want to play this game. If you know them, you can use them to your advantage! – René