Nicole Tarczanin and her family had a great time on their Caribbean cruise. But getting to the port was not exactly smooth sailing. That's because months after they booked flights, the airline changed the schedule. Their plane would land 10 hours later than initially planned. That meant they'd miss the boat!
"We called the airline and they basically just told us there wasn't anything else that they could do, that all flights were booked," said Tarczanin.
The airline refunded the frequent flyer miles Nicole and her family used for the tickets but the family was still out more than $700 for seats on a different carrier. So, what are your rights if you're like Nicole and a schedule change doesn't work? We're not talking about delays due to weather or mechanical problems. Instead, changes made in advance that might mean your plane will leave hours earlier or later or even the next day.
"If the airline has changed your flight and that flight is not convenient for you, you can absolutely get a refund," explained Jean Medina with Airlines for America.
Travel experts say a refund might not get you to your destination on time or cover possible additional expenses like an extra night in a hotel or a potentially more expensive ticket on another airline. And there's no federal law that prevents airlines from changing their schedules without repercussions.
There are a couple of things you can do to limit the impact changes will have on your trip. If your flights are months away, check them weekly. The sooner you notice the change, the more time you'll have to make your case to the airline. You can also ask to be put on a different carrier or partner airline. If that doesn't work, demand a full refund.