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Seeking advice on changes made to flights

I know many on this forum deal with airline initiated changes to itineraries all the time, but this is a first for me, and I need your help understanding my options.

A few weeks ago I purchased tickets to Rome on United. Travel isn't until September. Got a very good deal on regional jet from our small local airport to Newark; nonstop Newark to Rome; nonstop Rome to Newark; regional jet from Newark to local airport. Today I received (what may be the first of many) notifications from United that our itinerary had been changed. No changes to the Newark-Rome and return flights, but changes to both regional flights to/fr Newark. The changes are not great, but looking on the United website, it doesn't look like there are other decent options -- at least as of today. My question it okay to do nothing about these changes now, and wait to see what happens in the intervening months? If I don't try to make changes now, will I be able to do so weeks or months from now if better options open up and based on the fact that United made the changes to my initial flights? Or, if I don't do anything now, will I have trouble doing something at a later date?

One of the changes is annoying but we can live with it. An early morning flight from home to Newark was changed to an extremely early morning flight ( 6 a.m. departure) which is not great -- and makes a long layover in Newark even longer -- but it's inconvenient at worst. The other change is a little more worrisome. Instead of a 3 hour layover in Newark on the return from Rome, we now have a 1 hour, 20 minute layover. That's a little close for comfort. But the only other options currently showing up are either an 8+ hour layover in Newark, flying home late at night, or flights with multiple stops (Newark to Chicago to Ithaca, etc) which make no sense at all. So basically, the only option would be the super long layover on the flight home.

I'm thinking that there is so much time between now and September that our flights are likely to change again....OR they may keep us on these flights, but add flights to their menu of flights that are better for us. So is it okay to try to wait it out, checking the website on a weekly basis, to see if a better regional flight is added to the schedule between now and September? And if that is not the case, would it be possible many months down the road to change to the return flight with the long layover (assuming seats are still available)? Or must we request changes to the flights asap?

To make matters more confusing, the website says we are permitted to make changes to the itinerary one time free of charge. Which makes me worry that if we chose the long long layover now, and then a better flight shows up a few months from now, we'll need to pay to get on the better flight.

What advice do you have for me? Thanks so much!!

Posted by
754 posts

Accepting a change now vs waiting for possibly better options is a gamble. Personally, I'd rather confirm the best available option now, and roll with any future changes as they come.

Have you looked at connecting through United's other hubs that are served from ROC? It looks like you might have options via Chicago or Washington, too.

Posted by
754 posts

Also, depending on how great the difference is and the airline's policy, you might be eligible for a complete cancelation and full refund. This could give you the opportunity to re-shop the fare across all carriers/routings/schedules.

Posted by
5262 posts

My experience is limited, but it's that flight schedules will change multiple times over six months, especially domestic. I don't think you need to react right away. American has changed my schedule twice (so far) for a mid-May departure and early June return, generally adding or subtracting a half-hour or so. You may have a similar experience as the months unfold.

It sounds like your flights are on just one ticket. If so, and if you miss that homeward Newark connection, United should get you on the next available flight with seats to your local airport (theirs or another airline's). Having one free change is a bonus, I'd suggest saving that in case you might really need it later. Have a great journey to a great destination!

Edit -- Just read Scudder's posts. Yes, you could probably cancel and rebook with United or someone else, but you might end up with a higher fare and the same risk of changes before September. Best to research those options carefully before pulling the plug on your bird in the hand (so to speak).

Posted by
203 posts

Hi Ruth. I’m not familiar with United’s policies. When traveling with Delta I’m given the option to accept changes, request alternate flights, or if the change is significant receive a refund. There is no limit imposed for these options if the carrier makes changes. You may want to contact your airline directly, discuss your concerns and seek their policy regarding this situation. Make sure to communicate that this concern arises from the changes that they made to your original itinerary. At that point you’ll be able to decide what to do (as well as possibly having peace of mind). Notwithstanding, it’s great that the international leg is nonstop. Good luck.

Edit: I also had this occur in January with a flight booked with American. The changes were drastic. They allowed options to change without penalty or a full refund. I took the refund.

Posted by
7196 posts

Usually when they change it you either accept the change or they give you your money back so you can start from scratch.
Get your money back and start from scratch since September is ways away or just stick with what you got if you got a very good deal. But don't change it yourself otherwise they are going to charge you $200

Posted by
515 posts

Scudder, our flights originate out of ITH (where we live, 10 minute drive from our house to airport) not ROC (minimum 2 hour drive) and that was part of the appeal. Also, we got an exceptionally good fare, and I'm not seeing anything close to that fare today. So I really don't think cancelling and re-booking is the way to go. For some reason, when I booked it was hundreds of dollars less to fly Ithaca-Newark-Rome and reverse than to just fly Newark-Rome. Exact same Newark-Rome flights each way, just much cheaper to start our journey at our local airport. That's very appealing, because flying out of anywhere else would involve a long drive

The reason I wouldn't want to jump on making a change if I don't have to right away, is that the only option for a change isn't a very good option. We'd be changing from a super short layover in Newark on the way home to a full day long layover. So I really don't want to "waste" my opportunity to make a free change to that flight, if there's the possibility that sometime between now and September they add a new flight, reinstate that flight they apparently cancelled, or change us again.

The main question is if I don't make the change now, will I potentially be able to make a change later....without $ penalty, since United changed our flights to begin with.

Posted by
1075 posts


I definitely wouldn't use your free change to the long layover flight. If you don't make the flight, you will end up on that next flight anyways. Wait it out.

Posted by
2181 posts

Ugh, I understand your confusion and frustration. I do think in these early days of post Covid travel, that more inconveniences need to be accepted and expected. If the layover is long, can you just do an overnight at EWR? That is what we did on a direct return flight from Athens to Newark. Many airport hotels nearby.

Posted by
754 posts

I have no idea where I got the idea of ROC in my head! Sorry!

Posted by
341 posts

If there is a significant change or changes, you are not limited to just that 1 free change. Significant changes are separate from that offer.

I had a trip booked with Air Canada, last year when lots of flights were being canceled. I called 4X to pick different flights at no cost. They had also listed 1 free change. In my case, I no longer looked for the ideal, but ended up changing it just to have the trip still viable. The rerouting sometimes included added stops that at the time would require me to quarantine. Each time I called, they did offer a full refund, but I had a really cheap ticket. The current pricing of tickets was outside of my budget, so I was unwilling to give up that ticket.

If and when you choose to make changes, I believe you need to call them. If they want to charge you the fare difference, hang up and call back.

Posted by
292 posts

We had this happen with our BA itinerary. While the outgoing flights were good and incoming international piece adequate, the domestic leg was problematic. There had been a previous change that made for a longer layover but I'd just sat on that one. The new change effectively stranded us in Philadelphia. At that point, I had to call.

My advice is to do your research on the options before you even talk to the airline. Maybe from your hometown to another hub to Rome is a better option. Think out of the box. For our situation, when I called BA, they offered to change our flights to one where we left Rome a couple of hours earlier and then had a multi-hour layover in Dallas. (Been there, done that.) It was okay and doable. However, armed with information, I said, "What about this flight?" While I waited, they booked us on a later flight from Rome to LHR. We have 90 minutes in the same terminal and a direct flight home. We'll do customs at our home airport. When I originally booked, this option was a few hundred dollars more. In effect, I leveraged the flight change to a better, more convenient flight for us. I'd love to hear if you are able to do something similar. Good luck!

Posted by
11253 posts

I would chill. I have a return flight to the USA from Europe in June. It has been changed three times in the last month. (All for the better.). It wll probably change again.

There will be more changes between now and September. Sit back and relax if you can live with the changes. Wait and see what happens. Technically, if the airline changes your flights, you have the right to chnge them to something more of your liking. But if there isn't anything better now.......why change now.

Of course, you could check other airlines flying out of Ithaca and see if they have better fares, if they do, book them and cancel United.

Posted by
3 posts

There isn’t a set time for a response on getting a refund from your airline for a changed flight. You can wait and see for months no (further) worries! Plus (you may already know this) you by law have 24 hrs to cancel any flight for free, so if you see a great deal/flight on another airline pop up, book it, then get a refund on your original flight. Bird in the hand both ways.
Hope it works out!