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Schedule change (now tight connection) on intl flight booked on Priceline

Schedule change (now tight connection) on intl flight booked on Priceline

Old Nov 10, 18, 8:00 pm
  #1  
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Schedule change (now tight connection) on intl flight booked on Priceline

Hi everyone, Iím flying with my wife and two young kids to Amsterdam (RDU-ATL-AMS) in a few months. We booked the ticket via Priceline a few weeks ago, rather than book directly through the airline because it saved nearly $1,000 on our familyís total ticket (including a return via CDG 10 days later because our vacation ends there and not in AMS).

The schedule I chose intentionally built in a 90-min layover in ATL (before flying on to AMS) vs other options that had a 45-60 min layover, because I didnít want a tight layover with my young family (we are traveling with the kidsí car seats onboard). Today the airline issued a schedule change, and now our connection in ATL is 54 minutes. Normally I wouldnít worry about that if it was just me traveling for business, but Iíd rather not be pushing it given is our traveling kids. Thereís an earlier flight from RDU to ATL that gives a 2 hr layover, but itís been impossible to get anyone at Delta or Priceline to help me. They each keep saying thereís nothing to do because of the ticketsí 3rd party fare class.

Priceline said I could pay a $300 change fee per ticket, plus a $30 rebooking fee, to get the earlier flight. Of course, Iím not going to pay $1200+ just to have a longer layover and more peace of mind to make the intl connection. Anyone have tips here? Should I just hope and pray that this tight connection holds? Iíve already looked into moving closer to the front of my existing RDU to ATL flight, but those seats are taken.

Thanks for any tips!
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Old Nov 14, 18, 7:14 am
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Assuming that this is a DL to DL connection (on the same ticket/PNR), start by checking the MCT = minimum connecting time for a domestic to international connection using DL in ATL. In the DL forum here on FT, there's a big thread on this (IIRC identified as a "master thread") for MCT at ATL with a wiki at the top containing MCT information for various combinations of flights. Note that if your TATL flight is actually operated by KLM (as a DL codeshare) the MCT might possibly be different. If the MCT for your details is 55 minutes or more, Priceline MUST change your tickets at no additional cost (and without imposing any service fees or change fees of any form).
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Old Nov 14, 18, 7:26 am
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You are within the MCT for D-I (KL) at ATL so neither PL nor DL have any obligation to change your tickets. DL would ordinarily make this change for you as a courtesy, but these are PL tickets and it is entirely PL's decision. I would call PL back and make the case. Sooner or later you may hit someone likely to help, but you do need to understand that this is pure luck if it does.

While it is cold comfort, presuming that PL ticketed you on one ticket, if you do misconnect, it will be DL's responsibility to reroute you. However, you should double check that each of the four of you have one single ticket, at least RDU-AMS and that PL has not handled these as separate tickets. If that is the case, please come back here with those details.
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Old Nov 15, 18, 4:03 pm
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Thank you for the feedback. It was booked on Priceline, all as one ticket. The outbound RDU to ATL to AMS is all on delta. Iíll keep calling Priceline and seeing if I get a sympathetic agent. It seems like a fairly simple fix on their end if I can take the slightly earlier flight with this much lead time and no fare difference. Will keep you posted!
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Old Nov 18, 18, 9:48 am
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Originally Posted by rob13 View Post
Thank you for the feedback. It was booked on Priceline, all as one ticket. The outbound RDU to ATL to AMS is all on delta. Iíll keep calling Priceline and seeing if I get a sympathetic agent. It seems like a fairly simple fix on their end if I can take the slightly earlier flight with this much lead time and no fare difference. Will keep you posted!
You can pretty much forget that. Sorry. A sympathetic agent at Delta might be able to do this for you, but PL can't just change flights as long as they are within MCT and the overall flight time change is minimal. DL would bill them if they did that. That's the downside of using a TA; you are pretty much stuck with them.
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Old Nov 18, 18, 3:47 pm
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I appreciate the honest assessment. It just seems like a straightforward problem to fix with this much lead time. Why wouldnít PL want me to be a happy customer? Iím surprised that neither DL or PL will work with me on it, particular given the situation with my young family and us not being able to sprint through the terminal on a tight connection that we didnít choose upfront. Do you think PL would budge if I offered to pay a partial change fee? Iím not going to pay $1200+ to change 4 tickets to give us a 90-min buffer, but I would do something closer to $200-$300 if that covers what DL would charge PL. If DL could make his change with no fee (if I had booked directly through them), it seems odd that theyíd push $1200 in fees to PL to make the same change on my behalf. If PL isnít willing to work with me given my familyís mobility limitations (and the fact that I would even meet them part of the way Iím fees), then Iíll definitely not book with PL again.
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Old Nov 18, 18, 6:22 pm
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Very doubtful, but you may as well try. If PL changes your tickets without the connection dropping below MCT, DL will administratively debit the $300 per ticket change fee, effectively charge PL $1,200 for the four tickets and it is up to PL to charge you that amount or eat the $1,200. That is an awful lot of money for a low-margin operation and unlikely that PL has any reason to do so. Paying a partial fee is pretty much out of the question in an automated operation.

While you say that this is a simple fix and it is, the unfortunate fact is that you have inflexible tickets and if you could have flexibility for the price of an inflexible ticket, nobody would purchase the flexible tickets. Couple that with PL rather than DL itself and you have a problem.

Starting at 24 hours prior to travel, you may be able to change your tickets through DL for $75 per person. But, there must be availability in the same fare basis and you cannot count on it happening.

Last thing to try is simply to show up for the earlier flight and ask if it can be arranged. But again, that is a risk.
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Old Nov 20, 18, 7:38 am
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Look, it is very simple. PL is not going to change the tickets for you without you paying the change fee. Period. There is no point in suggesting to pay part of the PL change fee; this is not how it works and it will be a waste of time on your part.

You can hope for a further schedule change (may happen - you never know) that suddenly either provide more transfer time or will reduce it further so you are undercutting MCT (in the latter situation PL will rebook you for free). However, if this doesn't occur you will take the flights with 54min transfer time at ATL which should be sufficient; even if you walk at a reasonable/slow pace. If incoming flight is late and you miss the AMS flight, DL will rebook you - it will not be the end of the day as there are numerous flights from ATL to AMS/Europe so really not much to worry about. Most likely you will be fine and on the day of departure you will find yourself on the AMS flight as originally booked.
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Old Nov 21, 18, 11:21 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Very doubtful, but you may as well try. If PL changes your tickets without the connection dropping below MCT, DL will administratively debit the $300 per ticket change fee, effectively charge PL $1,200 for the four tickets and it is up to PL to charge you that amount or eat the $1,200. That is an awful lot of money for a low-margin operation and unlikely that PL has any reason to do so. Paying a partial fee is pretty much out of the question in an automated operation.

While you say that this is a simple fix and it is, the unfortunate fact is that you have inflexible tickets and if you could have flexibility for the price of an inflexible ticket, nobody would purchase the flexible tickets. Couple that with PL rather than DL itself and you have a problem.

Starting at 24 hours prior to travel, you may be able to change your tickets through DL for $75 per person. But, there must be availability in the same fare basis and you cannot count on it happening.

Last thing to try is simply to show up for the earlier flight and ask if it can be arranged. But again, that is a risk.
DL does not permit SDC (which requires fare class availability on coach tickets) or SDS on international itineraries until all of the international segments have beeen flown, so trying to change at T-24 won't work unless there are IROPs.
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Old Nov 23, 18, 6:33 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post

Last thing to try is simply to show up for the earlier flight and ask if it can be arranged. But again, that is a risk.
The risk is very limited IMO. The only risk involved is that the request for getting on the earlier flight is denied and the OP will have to wait for the original booked flight. If the OP and family do not mind going to airport early and possibly spend extra time at RDU airport, they should by all means try this (however, most likely it will not work).

Last edited by SK AAR; Nov 23, 18 at 7:44 am Reason: spelling
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Old Nov 24, 18, 6:04 am
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I find ATL to be one of the easiest, most logical big US airports at which to change planes. If you aren't familiar with it, worth looking at a map ahead of time. And then asking for directions when you get there, just to be sure. If you can get a best guess as to your arrival and departure terminals, it is likely somebody here will have some tips on how to do that the quickest.

Delta is highly likely to do some more schedule changing in the next few months. That might save you.

But if you are still stuck with the situation, minutes will count. Seats as far forward as possible help. Stowing your carry-ons so you can quickly grab down helps. Talking to the flight attendants can help. Sometimes a plane will kindly let those with tight connections off first. Doesn't hurt to ask. I just was on one that let two "unaccompanied minors" of perhaps 8 and 10 off from the very back of the plane. I've never used them, but you might investigate how one gets those carts that whisk people more quickly. Maybe even letting the faster parent/child combo run ahead and explain to the gate?
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