Tip: Carefully read flight notifications!

A few weeks ago I booked a trip to New York, through Charlotte. I was very careful to make sure that I had plenty of reading glassestime in Charlotte to make my connection, since it is a sprawling airport and I am a slow pregnant lady. Naturally I requested upgrades once the ticket was confirmed, plus double checked everything on the itinerary was correct. Everything looked good to go, and I was confident I could get to my gate in the 90 minute layover.

48 hours before my flight I got a notification from my corporate travel agent. This is not a new thing—in fact, I get these all the freaking time. Every time my gate changes, my flight is delayed, or I am upgraded I get a flight notification. Typically I open them, give the info a cursory glance, and move on. So I opened the email, noticed that I had been upgraded for both segments (hooray!) and started to close it when something caught my eye. The first flight landed in Charlotte at 5:10, and the second flight took off at 5:20. Wait a second! What happened to my 90-minute layover?? Even if the gates were right next to each other (which never happens in Charlotte) there was no way I could make that connection.

So I call US Airways, whose answering service says they are experiencing a high call volume and to try back later. Uh, okay. Thanks for nothing! Then I call American, and things got even weirder. I got through to someone pretty quickly, but she wasn’t able to help me. However, she agreed that it was very strange that I had booked one itinerary and randomly been switched to a different one that would be impossible to complete. She put me on hold to try to find someone who could fix the issue, and I waited. And waited. And waited. Someone else finally came on the line, asking a bunch of questions about where I booked my ticket. The same place I always do—my corporate travel site. He puts me on hold again, and I wait for almost half an hour. During this time, some friends arrived at my house to watch a movie (did I mention it was Saturday??). Luckily they are very understanding, and visited with the Home Warrior while I waited to see what would happen. Finally the gentleman came back on the line, said he had fixed it, and I was back on the correct itinerary. Alas, my second upgrade wouldn’t clear. Bummer. But at least I got it all fixed!

The lesson here: even though sometimes all the needless flight notifications are annoying, make sure you double check the details on each one. If I hadn’t I would have had a horrible time trying to fix this after missing a flight. Instead, I spent an hour and a half of a precious Saturday at home. Oh well.

The bonus: whatever the guy did to fix the issue meant that I couldn’t edit the reservation at all online, including changing seats, checking in, or requesting an upgrade. Spent a lot of quality time on the phone with customer service during that trip!

Readers, do you carefully read flight notifications from your travel agent or airline?

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  1. Had something even worse happen to me. Original return flight SJU>PHL>SEA. A few weeks before the flight, I got a notice that the flight had been changed. At first I didn’t think much of it, happens all the time. A few days before my flight out I took a closer look and noticed that not only did they add a stop in the rebooking (SJU>PHL>CLT>SEA), but the flight from PHL landed in CLT an hour *after* the connecting flight in CLT left.

    Thankfully they didn’t have any issue rebooking me onto a more direct SJU>DFW>SEA flight home. But just a good reminder to always take a close look at those notices.

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