For Once, Some Good News About Winter Plane Travel

You can now reroute your flight (for free!) in bad weather

By Diane Rommel

 
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03 January 2017

In general, the news from airlines is garbage: less space, higher fares, fewer perks — unless, of course, you're a high-flying member of the global 0.01%, forever treated to more luxurious first-class suites. And oh — those reward flights you used to use to get out of cattle class? Your alliance sucks now, so forget it. (We're not even getting into the coming absorption of best-in-class Virgin America by Alaska, which bought it last April and might not be as enthusiastic about the mood lighting as VA's passengers have been.) 

Sorry — we were about to get into the good news. 

Bowing to common sense, airlines are, at long last, prepared to be more flexible with scheduling around winter weather concerns. The old model? Making everybody go to the airport and hoping for the best (read: cots). Now? Airlines are making use of a little thing called "weather forecasting" and giving passengers the option of rerouting themselves, or moving up or delaying travel — all to avoid the blizzard around the corner. 

The New York Times reports today that airlines including the forementioned Alaska, Delta, and American, all of which offer rescheduling options for travelers by app, though capabilities vary by brand, route, and goal, whether that means changing departure times or the airports involved. 

As Brian "The Points Guy" Kelly points out, this is a win for airlines, who have typically been forced to devote significant staffing resources to rerouting snowed-in travelers: If passengers can handle some changes themselves, those reps are freed up for other tasks. And last-minute changes will open up last-minute seats — which are sold to other fliers for a premium. So it's not a selfless gift they offer us, but it helps.

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