With air traffic worldwide slowing down, and in many cases stopping, plans for near-term leisure travel is tentative at best. I have some upcoming travel on both United and American, and the way each airline manages these frequent changes is different. Given the current situation, I’m not traveling on these flights. I haven’t cancelled my bookings yet, since I wanted to see how things would shake out. Plus, if I need to call, I’d rather wait until phone lines are less busy. Or at least until closer until my departure. A good source for current flight cancellation information for airlines worldwide is this spreadsheet.
My Cancelled Flights on American
While piecing together my trip, I booked economy award tickets on American to get to from my Qatar Airways flights (30,000 AA miles each way). This has the advantage of being fully refundable thanks to my Executive Platinum status. I later found better options to get to Copenhagen (see below). I haven’t finalized the return portion of my trip yet, but since the trip isn’t happening that doesn’t matter anymore. The outbound portion of the trip was originally Milwaukee to Copenhagen via Chicago and London. American has since cancelled all international flights from O’Hare. Now my itinerary is routing via Dallas, to the only Trans-Atlantic flight from Dallas on the schedule in April.
My original itinerary was to my preferences, short layovers, and the last flight of the night to Heathrow, which I prefer for beating jet lag. This new one has very long layovers, especially with 12 hours in London, since the British Airways flight in the itinerary did not change. Presumably I could change this to a more convenient connection, but again, not taking this trip so it doesn’t matter.
Here is the inbound portion of my trip:
How about a 10 minute connection at Heathrow changing terminals? This is of course an illegal connection, since the minimum connection time is 90 minutes. The algorithm correctly tried to force me onto flights that at the moment, American plans to operate. My seat is among the best main cabin extra seats on the 77W, one of the few sets of 2 seat pairs.
Now it seems my itinerary has been cancelled outright. Maybe because it is an award trip? Impossible connection? Who knows. I haven’t received any communication from American about my itinerary, but needless to say they are overwhelmed with everything going on.
My United Reservation
Later I booked a more comfortable trip for my outbound flight, a Star Alliance award booked via Aeroplan. But this too isn’t going to happen.
These legs are a fun add on to my original plans on to get to my Qatar Airways trip. That itinerary departs from Copenhagen, so I booked business class from Milwaukee to Copenhagen with stops in Chicago and Brussels. Not the greatest itinerary, but it would have been my first time in real Polaris seats, as the segment between Chicago and Brussels was scheduled to be a 787-10. Plus another visit to the United Polaris Lounge at O’Hare.
Eventually United changed the itinerary from O’Hare to Newark when United stopped all international flights from O’Hare. Now, United ended flights between Newark and Brussels, so that leg is missing from my itinerary, seen above. Maybe this will get fixed closer to departure, but I kind of doubt it. Plus SAS has grounded nearly all of their flights, so even if I could get to Brussels, I don’t think the flight to Copenhagen is operating.
As I mentioned, this is an Aeroplan award, costing 55,000 miles plus approximately US$25 in taxes/fees. Looking at my booking on their website, it still shows both my original routing via O’Hare, and the updated flights via Newark. Thankfully Aeroplan has a waiver allowing for free award redeposits, including fees through March 31. At least I’ll be able to get my miles and taxes I paid fully refunded.
My experiences are only a small subset of data at this moment, showing how these airlines are dealing with the constantly changing schedules. My suggestion is to stay home and stay safe. Don’t immediately cancel any trips until closer to departure date. Airlines are understandably trying to preserve revenue as much as possible. But I care about my pocket book, not that of some giant corporation that nickel and dimes customers whenever possible. These flight changes are likely intended to limit the amount of cancelled flights, and the associated refunds those require. Yes, getting a flight credit for future travel gives travelers some flexibility. This is not out of generosity, but airlines know that many of these will not be used. Eventually I’ll cancel these itineraries. Waiting in part to not have to call jammed phone lines to get my miles and taxes/fees back.
How have your travel plans changed based on all of the flight cancellations lately?