when an airline changes your flight... scrutinize it!

which flight would YOU choose to fly from Denver, CO to Oakland, CA

Has your airline cancelled your flight and sent you a new itinerary? We received two notices over the past several days concerning my wife's flights this July between Oakland and Denver. Southwest eliminated the non-stop flights on her original itinerary. (Airlines are frequently doing this now due to decreased demand.) When a ticketed flight is cancelled, the airline's computer system goes into action and selects new flights for you. Unfortunately, Southwest's computer system will always suggest an itinerary that suits the airline's interests (choosing legs with less demand) rather than the itinerary that makes the most sense for the passenger (non-stop flights).

Always take a careful look at the new flights being offered. Southwest had rescheduled her on an outbound flight that stopped in Orange County (Southern California) enroute to Denver. Their choice of a return flight stopped in Spokane (eastern Washington State) before flying onto Oakland. Some quick research revealed that non-stop flights were readily available in the same time frame.

The graphic at the top of this article shows two return flights from Denver to Oakland. The 12:50 p.m. flight (onto which Southwest's reservations computer had moved her) has a duration of more than five hours from departure in Denver to arrival in Oakland. The 1:40 p.m. flight — leaving 50 minutes later — requires just 2 1/2 hours gate-to-gate and gets her home far earlier.

The solution is fortunately very simple. Call the airline! A phone call to the Southwest reservations number (with six minutes on hold) secured the desired flights. But be sure to make the call. If you don't, you'll be stuck with the undesirable new itinerary.

Bottom line: scrutinize the flights that an airline rebooks for you. You are entitled to ask for the flights you really want and (here's a pro-tip) ... an involuntarily rescheduled itinerary can sometimes score you a refund if you decide the airline's offer is unsatisfactory.

copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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