Catching a Break with Cancelled Flights

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Chase Sapphire Rental Car InsuranceBack in January I told everyone how Jeanne saved our vacation by convincing me to get Chase cards last year. We had a reserve of points we could use and using those points we bought one-way tickets home from Hawaii when the non-rev flights on American Airlines were not looking good for us.


This was pre-American merger, and I was able to use my Chase miles to book us on a United code share that was operated by US Airways.  We couldn’t get on the American flight we wanted, so this would have to do.

Then a crazy thing happened, our flight home that night got canceled. I realized this was a distinct possibility when my husband leaned over to me and said “we don’t have much time left, the crew will break crew rest and there will be no way to get out of here tonight”.

As soon as the announcement went over the loud speaker, chaos ensued. I told my husband to just get to the line at the counter and soon as possible and hopefully the kids and I would catch up before he got to the front of it. I started shoving things back into bags while simultaneously trying to get the kids to a state of consciousness where they could walk on their own. We head towards the ticket counters and my husband’s almost at the front. We received our vouchers and are told we need to call to change our flight.

American Airlines

Not being a person of airline status with a special number to call I start calling the number they gave me. In a fit of irony, they put us on the American Airlines flight flying out the next evening.

Important note to the story: When we were still trying to non-rev home (on American), I said to my husband if we could just hold out a few days, we could non-rev out fine since the flights weren’t full. This canceled flight would have changed all that. We would have woken up the next day with all the flights being red (full or over-booked), and we wouldn’t have had any idea why or how that happened.

They had a line of shuttles ready to transport us to our hotel for the night. We missed the line and didn’t get on the first one; but we had the right shuttle driver since he got us to the hotel before everyone else. With two tired, cranky kids and two tired, cranky adults, all we wanted to do was check-in and go to bed so it was nice to not have to wait in another line for that.

It was nice having the extra day in Hawaii since we knew we were flying back the next day. Work would be more understanding of a canceled flight rather than if we misjudged the non-rev situation. We got the opportunity to stay at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa and Keauhou Bay which was one of the properties I was originally considering when we planned the trip. We were allowed late check-out, the vouchers covered the amount of food we wanted, the kids got to swim all day, so for a canceled flight, it wasn’t the worst situation we could be in.

canceledWe talked to several other people from our flight over the day. One man was lucky enough to get a late morning flight (12 hours later than the original), but one couple was telling us they didn’t get a flight out for another three days. On paper that sounds great, but with having a limited number of days off for work I know that can be problematic for some people.

If we were in the situation as the people who had to wait three days I may have called back the next morning to see if there was anything else we could be transferred to. Given the number of people calling the night before the agents were probably going with the path of least resistance. If you can call back and talk to someone with more time who’s not frantically trying to change a lot of reservations at once they may be able to find you a better option. Of course, they might not be able to, but you’d be no worse off than you were before you called.

My husband and I have traveled enough together that we’re usually on the same page when something unplanned comes up. Which is helpful when you’re in these kinds of situations. I was so grateful we purchased the award ticket home, which saved us a lot of uncertainty and potential extra costs on this trip.


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Tiff's first big vacation was a Caribbean cruise when she was six. She first started getting interested in deals when her husband showed her the tricks to getting bought off your flights back in the late 90s. She started flying nonrev when they got married; the first unusual nonrev she did was in '05 when her family flew through San Juan to get to Dallas from Philly. They have two boys, ages 11 and 7, who she usually drags along on their travels and hopes they will grow up to love traveling as much as she does.

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