Reschedule delayed flights yourself with help from the Delta Web site

It’s unlikely any airline will ever be known for its stellar customer service, but a visit by my stepsons over the Labor Day weekend revealed some tools that can improve your experience when you’re confronted with delayed Delta flights.

On their way home at the end of the weekend, my sons’ itinerary included two connections. Before we left for the airport, I checked the flight status on the Delta Web site and found their first flight was already delayed, making it likely they would miss one or both connecting flights. Next, I went to the “My Trips” link on the Delta home page and entered the name and confirmation number associated with my sons’ itinerary. Once their flight plan appeared on the screen, I used the “Find alternate flights” link to see what other flights they might be able to use to get home. Since their original departure flight was delayed, Delta offered me the option of rescheduling their flights at no charge. By doing this, I got them home four hours earlier than originally scheduled, with only one connecting flight.

The “Find alternate flights” tool is not perfect, however. On the trip to our home, my sons’ first flight faced a delay of more than two hours, causing them to miss their connecting flight from Minneapolis to Louisville, Kentucky. Before they left the starting airport, Delta rescheduled them on a connecting flight that would arrive in Louisville four hours later than the original flight. The “Find alternate flights” tool showed only this option, but I wanted to determine if any others were available. To do this, I followed the same steps I would to purchase a ticket, searching for one-way Delta flights between Minneapolis and Louisville. I found a flight that would arrive almost two hours earlier than their new connecting flight. By using the “view seats” link on the reservation screen, I could see 15 empty seats on the flight. The website would not allow me to rebook the ticket myself, since this option did not display under the alternate flights link. However, I advised my stepsons to go up to the gate agent and present him with the flight number for this earlier connection, along with the number of available seats. By doing this, they got rebooked on the earlier connection at no charge.

Lessons learned:

    • While airlines usually rebook you automatically when you miss a connection, they may not place you on the best replacement flight.
    • Don’t hesitate to politely advocate for yourself if you are aware of a better flight option than the one the gate agent gives you.
    • You can see all available flight options by following the steps to reserve a flight on the airline’s website.
    • If you don’t have wireless Internet access at the airport, a friend can change your flight for you if they have your confirmation number.

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