AA Legal Documents
Law guide

Schedule changes, downgrading and diverted flights

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Schedule changes, downgrading and diverted flights

All airlines change their schedules from time to time. This can result in significant changes to the time or even date of a flight, but these changes are not the same as flight cancellations. Details of schedule changes should always be notified to passengers in advance.

For significant changes, most airlines will give a refund, if the new flight times are not acceptable to the passenger. This includes connecting flights on a single ticket or reservation. However, an airline making a schedule change has no responsibility for any connecting flights that you may have booked under separate reservations.

Most airlines' conditions of carriage simply state that they will make "reasonable efforts", or will "endeavour" to tell passengers about a schedule change. However, if the message does not get through and you arrive at the airport at the wrong time, and if the airline considers it did all it could to try to advise of the change, it may ask you to buy a new ticket. If it does, you may have little choice but to pay again and to seek a refund from the airline on your return.

Before you accept a schedule change, be sure that it is not actually a cancellation. If the flight number is different, and if you are being told of a change within 14 days of travel, you might be entitled to redress under Regulation EC 261/2004 on denied boarding, cancellation and delay.

For information on delayed and cancelled flights, see our 'Delay in terms of EU Regulations', 'Cancellation in terms of EU Regulations' and 'Cancellation and delay outside the application of EU law' sections.

For more information on being refused boarding, see our 'Denied boarding' section.

Tips

  • Re-check the flight times close to departure in case there have been schedule changes
  • If you change your contact details (email address / phone number) between booking and departure, make sure you tell the airline, as it will be the contact details you give at time of booking that the airline will use to try to advise you of any schedule changes
  • Be aware that if you book connecting flights on a different reservation, they may become unusable in the event of a schedule change
Downgrading

Under EU law, if you have been downgraded to a class lower than that for which you paid, on a flight from an EU airport or on an EU carrier flying from an airport outside the EU to an EU airport, then you are entitled to:

Length of journeyReimbursement

Up to 1500km

30% of price of ticket

1500-3500km

50% of price of ticket

More than 3500km

75% of price of ticket

Diverted flights

Sometimes airlines are unable, for any number of reasons, to fly to the destination printed on the ticket. If your flight is diverted, the airline must get you to the destination airport on your ticket or reservation, at no extra cost to you*. Sometimes the airline may arrange buses, or ask you to take a train and send in the receipt to be reimbursed. The AUC would prefer that passengers were not asked to make the initial outlay in this way, but accepts that it may sometimes be unavoidable. The important point is that it should, in the end, not cost you any extra to get to your destination. However, if the airline arranges a bus and you choose to go by other means, you will have a struggle to get the airline to reimburse you.

*The main exception to this would be if a flight was disrupted to avoid war or civil strife.