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Old Jul 14, 17, 11:13 am   #1
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Why do flight times get changed?

It seems like it never happened and that does all the time now. Yesterday for a departure in a week, a flight's time changed to two hours later. At some point, a departure for six months from then moved up two hours. Why do such changes take place? Is there a reason for such madness? What motivate airlines to make a single one time change months in advance?
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Old Jul 14, 17, 11:33 am   #2
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It seems like it never happened and that does all the time now.
It has been going on for years; it is hardly new.

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Why do such changes take place? Is there a reason for such madness? What motivate airlines to make a single one time change months in advance?
To optimize the systems so they can make more money.

That comes in the form of aircraft utilization, connecting passenger flow, gate space at certain airports, partners and more.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 12:48 pm   #3
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Flight time changes have been happening for at least the 20+ years I've been travelling regularly.

Airlines add/remove flights/frequency on a regular basis for competitive and other reasons. Big optimization algorithms are used to calculate the new schedule - thousands of inputs feed into millions of calculations to develop a new schedule. It's not surprising that things change when re-run with different variables/constraints.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 12:58 pm   #4
  
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Looking at US airlines, the big 3 are known for making lots of schedule changes up until a month before the flight, but you are able to book as far in advance as 330 days out. Southwest rarely makes schedule changes once bookings open, but they only open bookings about 6 months in advance. It's a trade off.

Close in departure changes are typically one off changes due to things like a plane being out of service, unexpectedly having low crew availability, weather , etc.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 2:08 pm   #5
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It's not always a bad thing for the traveler: IME, airlines are pretty flexible in allowing you a free change after they change flight times. (They're less flexible on refunds - for that, it has to be 90 or 120 minutes' change.)

The one-free-change can be helpful if you were really hoping to fly earlier or later to begin with, but couldn't because of award availability or whatnot.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 3:12 pm   #6
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Had one this year that changed both inbound arrival and outbound departure - it was because whoever loaded the flights forgot / didn't know about a country changing to summer time when it did (different date than to N America). Every flight that week with this airline changed.
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Old Jul 16, 17, 9:36 am   #7
  
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Southwest rarely makes schedule changes once bookings open, but they only open bookings about 6 months in advance. It's a trade off.
This is slowly changing at Southwest. Their new reservations system now allows a lot more scheduling flexibility -- and there are reports of schedule changes taking place after booking. So, Southwest is catching up to the big 3 major US airlines.
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Old Jul 17, 17, 2:08 pm   #8
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I have a flight in late December that keeps flipping back and forth between a 763 and a 789. It was a 763 when I booked and has changed three times, meaning we're now on a 789.

At some point in there, we got a free "upgrade" to MCE. (I'm AA Gold, so usually I'd only get that at OLCI.) The seats aren't what we'd ideally pick, but I can't complain too much. I'd love one more flip back to the 767, although I'm not sure what causes these changes to begin with.
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