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Outbund flights to Paris changed by airline - do we have any recourse?

My sister and I are flying United to Paris on April 19. Originally the flights were STL to EWR and then to CDG. But I checked the itinerary tonight and we're on new flights: STL to ORD with a 56-minute layover which makes me very nervous. Do we have any bargaining chips with United because the layover is so short? My sister will call them on Tuesday and ask what happened to our EWR flight (we assume it was canceled), and if we can change the Chicago itinerary because of the short layover.

Posted by
21356 posts

In another posting you said you were flying on ff mileage. You options may be very limited. But you will not know until you call.

Posted by
1976 posts

Andrea is flying with FF miles. I piggybacked on her post. My sister is calling first thing tomorrow morning. Of course I meant to check the itinerary two weeks after buying the tickets, but didn't get around to it until today so I have no idea when the change occurred. And it's too much to expect United to email us when they make changes.

Posted by
1821 posts

I recommend you go online and look at the options to see what flights will work better for you. Then ask to be moved to that. I find it's best to know what I want in advance.

Posted by
3659 posts

It is not too much to expect United to email you when they make changes. Where did you get that idea?

Posted by
3696 posts

Carol... I think she was being sarcastic about expecting customer service... at least that is how I took it:)
Yes, we should expect better from the airlines that we give our business to

Posted by
7205 posts

You'll get the standard jargon of "it's a legal connection time so there's nothing we can do". Of course that legal connection time was probably established a decade ago before airlines began stuffing flyers like sardines into a tin. Legal or not, unless you sit next to the exit door and are first out which of course you WON'T be because the lady/man in front of you will have to wrestle with removing their overstuffed oversized 2-ton carry-on from the overhead bin while everybody stands and glares.

Good luck, I look forward to hearing the resolution (or lack thereof).

Posted by
2545 posts

I've never had this experience onUnited, but I have with other airlines. Usually when they change it they will be flexible in making it work for you. If there is a reasonable option and if you booked thru the airline, not a 3rd party

First thing id do is look for an earlier STL to ORD flight. If you're not going first thing in the AM there is probably one - this seems like a common route. See if there is such a flight on United then ask for it when you call. If there's another airport you can use to get to ORD, look into flights from there. Be polite but keep pushing - ask for a manager if necessary.

Posted by
2950 posts

We had a similar experience last summer where the airline changed our flight to one with a shorter connection time a couple of months before we were to fly to Europe. We checked other available flights online before we called them and found out there was one with a slightly longer connection than our original. They had opted to book us in the direction of the shorter connection but we said we preferred the longer connection time. They had no issue with changing our flight to the one with the longer connection. A computer just makes the determination when flights get canceled and usually opts for the shortest legal connection I think.

Hope your sister can get you both changed to a flight with a more comfortable connection time.

EDIT: another thing we do before we call is check to see what terminal and gate the "new" flights used the day before --or today so you have more ammunition to see if the connection time is too short for you given how crowded ORD walkways can sometimes be, at least they were the last time we had a connecting flight there. We sometimes connect in ORD with my sister-in-law who lives near STL when we go to Europe together.

Posted by
1138 posts

If you can't get your new schedule changed despite your best, most polite efforts, be sure and tell the flight attendant supervisor on board your flight to Chicago, that you have a very tight connection and would like to be allowed to get off first. We've been on flights where that was done by the flight attendant, asking all to remain seated for those with tight connections. We almost always fly with AA and leave a cell number so they can advise us of any changes via text. We also always get an email on even minor changes such as flight numbers or even small time changes, such as a 10 minute departure change.

Posted by
1821 posts

George must flyer with nicer folks then the general public. The announcment to let those off who have tight connnections generally results in ONE person remaining seated while everyone else jumps up LOL!

Posted by
5664 posts

If United is unmovable re the ORD connection, try for aisle-aisle seats as far forward as possible to expedite disembarking.

Hope your arrival and departure flights are in the same concourse. Know the terminal layout and be prepared to move quickly. A light low bulk carry-on is preferable to a heavy stuffed bag.

Keep the faith. I recently made a scheduled 50 minute connection shortened by 10 minutes for de-icing and including a passport control check with time to spare. Our checked bags even made it and we're some of the first out (last in first out?).

Posted by
5664 posts

If United is unmovable re the ORD connection, try for aisle-aisle seats as far forward as possible to expedite disembarking.

Hope your arrival and departure flights are in the same concourse. Know the terminal layout and be prepared to move quickly. A light low bulk carry-on is preferable to a heavy stuffed bag.

Keep the faith. United is responsible for getting you to Paris. I recently made a scheduled 50 minute connection shortened by 10 minutes for de-icing and including a passport control check with time to spare. Our checked bags even made it and were some of the first bags out (last in first out?).

Posted by
1976 posts

Thank you all for your comments and advice. We found an earlier flight which leaves STL at 2:00, giving us a 2.5-hour layover in ORD. My sister is talking with United about moving us to that flight. If that can't be done, we'll take Edgar's advice to heart about sitting in aisle seats and learning which terminal the ORD-CDG flight departs from.

And yes, I was being sarcastic about United not bothering to email us about a ridiculous change like this. We're doing so much work scrambling to fix it. If I could get paid for doing other people's work for them, I'd be making a lot more money!

Posted by
8434 posts

In the past I had a flight that was changed to one with a shorter layover than I was comfortable with. I called and although it was within the legal limits they agreed to change my first flight so there would be a longer layover. Good luck!

Posted by
1821 posts

I routinely make tight connections and have developed a couple of "rules"

  1. Don't be a pack mule! If you cannot walk easily and quickly with your luggage CHECK IT. Nothing will slow you down more then stopping every 10 feet to rearrange the tons of junk you are carrying to save that fee.
  2. Yes, you can live witout that sandwich, magazine, "I was in the airport" T shirt etc.... Go directly to the gate, don't stop to shop! I can't tell you how often in Atlanta I see people race up to a gate hysterical that they missed a short connection all the while carrying Chick Fil A bags LOL! They missed the connection because they assumed the airline didn't mind waiting for them while they got food, OPPS!
  3. Same rule for bathroom. Go to your gate first and then decide what to do about bathrooms.
Posted by
1976 posts

The United agent got us on the 2:00 flight and sent us the new itinerary. Whew! Now I'll check it at least once a week.

I have too much experience running for connections. My checked luggage didn't make two tight connections on a trip in 2007 so that's why I never check luggage on the way over. Even if I have plenty of time for a connection, I go to the gate first and make sure my flight is leaving from that gate. Only then do I go to the bathroom, get food, etc.

I really appreciate everyone's advice and support. It helps to hear your experiences and how you solved problems (or didn't solve them and made the best of the situation!).

Posted by
2950 posts

So glad that phone call to United worked out for you. Enjoy your, hopefully, more relaxed beginning to your trip!

Posted by
1821 posts

I rarely check bags but I have one 20" Rollerboard and a tote that fits on it easily. Easy to roll.

But I routinely see the famlly of 5 with 5 roller boards since "it's free", 5 totes and of course the odd "the airline won't notice this extra purse or shopping bag" Of course it's unlikely the 3 year old will be able to haul the 22" suitcase, but what the heck? the parents can race through the airport trying to keep up with all that luggage and the kiddos. (Generally at some point one of the kids and/or parents has a melt down to provide even more entertainment LOL!)

My favorite was actually coming back from Paris a few years ago. This man was a "self appointed" travel expert. They booked a one hour connection in Atlanta (on purpose, they told several people in the Paris airport that it was "stupid" to wait for three hours for thier connection.), they were carrying on enough stuff to outfit some third world villages and Grandmom was in her late 70s. So we land in Atlanta. They were off before me, but I soon pass them. Father is now SCREAMING at his mother/mother in law "HURRY UP" , his wife is crying and he looked like some type of pack horse. Kids are being totally useless, they each have one tiny bag (they were preteen age) They arrive at immigration well after me and Father starts screaming at the line attendant that "I HAVE 30 MINUTES TO MAKE MY CONNECTION" She looked at him and said "you just missed it" LOL!

(And really there is not a "free purse' or "free shopping bag" exemption. So if you have more then two items and the third one isn't a medical device, what do you think you are doing? )

Posted by
1821 posts

Until recently I did travel for business... Did it for 20 plus years at least a couple of days a week.

I am now working in the same town I live in, so the stories may disappear :)

Posted by
35 posts

I'm glad you found a solution to your problem. We have experienced issues with changed schedules on United ourselves. My wife had reservations on United from ATL to IAD and making a connecting flight on Ethiopian Airlines, the one flight that departs each day at 10:30. First the reservation was great; arrived at IAD around 7:40, plenty of time for changing plans. Then out of the blue United rerouted her through ORD to arrive at 11:30, one hour after her connecting flight left. Then before we could call and ask about it United did it again; this time her flight from ORD arrived at IAD at 2:30; 4 hours after the connecting flight departed. I bought the tickets through Expedia and worked with them. We ended up having to cancel her original reservations and rescheduled for a day earlier which worked out to be almost $100 less in the end. I'm beginning to wonder about the folks at United.