Last Thursday, I wrote about Alaska Airlines canceling 10% of their flights through the end of January. If you missed that post, you can read it here. Yesterday, the flight cancellation computer was churning and I found out the hard way that I am affected. On Sunday afternoon, I checked my flight schedules on the Alaska Airlines app, and everything looked normal. I didn’t see any of the green “schedule change” bars.
I knew that sometime over this past weekend, the flight scheduling computer system at Alaska Airlines was going to cut 10% of their remaining flights through the end of January. What flights were going to be cancelled, when will I find out and how will the changes affect me? I am flying to Ontario, CA to cover the aircraft debut for the startup airline, Northern Pacific. I need to be in San Bernardino on the afternoon of January 17, 2021. Here is my original booking for the outbound trip:
I want to know about flight changes as soon as they occur because the schedule change may not work or I need to deal with some other issues like seat assignments. When there is a schedule change, the reservation overview page should look like this:
Since my trip to Ontario is for business, I really wanted to make sure that I was not going to be hit with a schedule change. Even though the overview page showed no “green change” bars, I was just a little skeptical. I tapped on the Ontario flight and I did find that my schedule had changed. This is what my app showed after I tapped “refresh”:
That’s right, there was a change to my schedule even though the overview page said there wasn’t. The detail clearly says:
Your reservation has a schedule change. To learn more and confirm this change, tap here.
I tapped on “tap here” and the change details appeared:
As you can see, I will still make it to Ontario on Monday but it means that what I had planned for that evening was no longer possible. Since my original flight was cancelled and I was put on an alternate flight, my seat location changed too. On my original flight from SEA to ONT, I booked a window seat, 7F. I am now in middle seat 9E. If you are traveling with others on your reservation, your new seats might have you separated from your companions.
Did Alaska Airlines Notify Me Of The Changes?
You would think that if your airline makes a change to your reservation, they would let you know. In most cases, Alaska Airlines is pretty good about sending out an email with the changes to your itinerary. Not this time, For whatever reason, I never got an email, text or phone call from Alaska Airlines about changes to my itinerary. This is where it pays to be proactive and look a little deeper into your flight schedule. You may be competing with 100 or more passengers for the same resources such as optimal flights, seating locations and other factors.
What I did
As soon as I determined that there was a significant change to my flight schedule, I called the airline. We discussed flight alternatives and I asked the question, where am I sitting on my new flight AS 918 to Ontario? The app would not display my seating location until I accepted the schedule changes first. I asked the reservation agent where I am seated on flight 918. She told me that I have center seat, 9E. There were no better options for the flight to Ontario, so I did accept that change. Since I called early, I was able to deal with the center seat issue and get relocated to a window seat which I prefer. The last thing I did was I changed the originating flight out of PDX from 11:00 am to 12:00 noon to cut down my layover in Seattle. Although my schedule is not perfect, I was able to beat other passengers with changes to make the best out of a bad situation.
In addition to flight cancellations, there are other things that can affect your journey. I wrote two articles to help you deal with the bumps of airline schedules and changes.
Many people like to cut their airport connection time to a bare minimum. You can read about the importance of minimum connection times here.
If you book your flight well in advance, you may be affected by quarterly schedule changes. You can read about airline quarterly schedule changes here.
I am not going to complain about the flight cancellations by Alaska Airlines as I fully understand staffing shortages during the pandemic. However, especially in these uncertain times, it is important for airline passengers to be proactive in dealing with flight changes and cancellations. Remember that when a flight cancels, you could be competing with hundreds of other passengers for the same limited rebooking resources.