Changing plane, train, ballet tickets due to Covid (or presumably due to another illness or issue): what I learned


I am very glad I opted (uncharacteristically) to pay $100 extra per ticket for our flights to London so we’d get “changeable” tickets. When my husband tested positive for Covid this week (He’s ok. Bad cold symptoms and initial high fever) it was five days before our flight to London. I discovered it was surprisingly easy to rebook our tickets, pushing our trip back a week (in case I get Covid. So far so good.). We even got $90 per ticket in travel credits. (Never would have guessed the cost would drop.)

London friends I can’t wait to see!

Meanwhile, rebooking our train travel was NOT easy. I couldn’t just change the dates of travel. I had to buy new tickets, which was very easy. Then I could apply for a refund, which was ridiculously difficult. No surprise that it was easy to spend more money but not to get money back. Shame on you, Great Western Railway! This was compounded by the announced rail strike days…with no service on 3 days of our trip. Grrrr.

On another cancellation front, after failing to find someone to give my Joffrey ballet tickets, hours before the performance, I looked closer at the fine print on the Joffrey website and learned that I could exchange them for a credit to use for a performance later in the season. I called the box office and voila! Now I can go to a performance through April 2023 (the current season).

Who we don’t want to see in London

Back to the airline situation: Our “ main cabin” tickets, I learned allow us to change them —- specifically to rebook the same trip and do it several times, if need be, without charge, beyond paying more (or less, as it happened) due to the new flight possibly costing more than the original one. Good to know and handy in case I develop Covid.

Google tells me: “The main difference between main cabin and basic economy is cost. For cheaper airfare and more money in your pocket, you trade flexibility for flight changes and/or cancellations, seat selection options and the ability to earn miles at a high rate. Love them or hate them, basic economy fares are here to stay.Apr 22, 2022”

I asked the American Airlines agent what would have happened if we had the cheaper “basic economy” ticket and she said we would not have been able to change/rebook the ticket. Or that’s what I understood her to say. Surely, I said, if someone is sick, especially with Covid, you don’t want them flying and would help them stay off the plane. She then said something to the effect that they could rebook once. (Not sure about the other particulars ex: change fee? Paying the possible difference in fares? Etc.)

Last January, when I decided not to go to a gathering in Atlanta, due to a Covid spike, Delta gave me travel credits with my basic economy tix (or some such), which I am using for thanksgiving flights to NY. But that was cancellation not rebooking flights.

The fine print on the American website specifies the policy for a variety of what I loosely called “changes” and the varying options, depending on the ticket type/cost. Another variable: the airline you choose. For an American Airlines basic economy ticket for example: if you cancel a trip, you can’t exchange the ticket or get a refund. But if you need to rebook the trip, you can sort of. The process/options are more “restrictive” than higher priced tickets. (The fine print doesn’t mention the possible option of getting travel credits if you cancel.)

Moral of story: ASK what is available and politely but firmly stick up for yourself. Play the pity card if need be. Or appeal to the airline to be reasonable, although this doesn’t always work.

I still have not forgiven American for screwing up my daughter’s (expensive, albeit “basic economy”) flights to a family wedding in New Mexico in early June. They cancelled her flights (for non-mechanical, non-weather reasons! It was due to their staff shortage) and then gave her awful options for other flights. She came close to missing the wedding. And the changes added even more stress to the trip. I was particularly incensed that they would not give her an available seat that was a decent alternative because it was a much higher fare seat. She’d have to pay considerably more.

American has improved its customer service, although I don’t doubt my latest experience had to do partly with having a higher fare ticket. I braced myself for a long wait on the phone for an agent (several hours in the recent past with an airline) but got a call back in a matter of minutes and the agent was efficient and accommodating (again, perhaps in part because I had a pricier, more flexible ticket but still…)

2 Comments

Filed under airfare, airline fees, Airlines, England and U.K., London, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Changing plane, train, ballet tickets due to Covid (or presumably due to another illness or issue): what I learned

  1. Marion Underhill

    What a time-consuming fiasco! See you in London! ??

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