Cancelled flights are an interesting thing. There are operational reasons as to why a service is cancelled and I completely understand that. The vagaries of air travel with variable weather, regular summer strikes by Air Traffic Control and the myriad of other possible issues means that cancelled flights are a fact of life.
I had plans to travel from Dublin to London flying out on Saturday at 2pm and returning on Sunday at 2:10pm. It was an overnight trip to see friends and attend an event. I had checked in online 24 hours before the flight time, had my boarding pass and was all set.
Saturday morning I woke and decided to check my e-mail before I headed off to the airport. It’s very lucky I did as I was greeted with two e-mails sent at 5am and 5:15am alerting me to the fact my flight was cancelled.
What struck me instantly was that the alternative flight was the last one for the day. Certainly not the “best” alternative flight by any means! My event in London commenced at 7pm so the flight I had been moved to meant I would completely miss it.
Checking online, I discovered that there were no seats available on any flight apart from one single seat on the flight before mine. When I attempted to make the change online, the computer systems wouldn’t allow it so I had to call the airline and my booking was changed to that flight. One hour earlier was much better than departing five and a half hours later!
Where’s the logic?
Looking at the schedule, there were flights to London at 7:40am, 11:40am, 12:55pm, 3:20pm, 7:30pm and 8:45pm. It would have made sense to automatically put me onto either the 12:55pm flight or the 3:20pm flight as these were the closest services to my original schedule. It makes no sense to me why I would be moved to a flight so much later especially as there were seats available on at least one of those flights.
I presume there is some kind of algorithm that automatically moves people around when flights are cancelled. If there is, it’s not great. What would have happened if I had not checked my e-mail before I flew? Judging by the amount of people who were clustered around the ticket desk at Dublin Airport on Saturday, I imagine I would have had to join the throng and hope for the best. Some were complaining they had been waiting over an hour in line and still hadn’t seen anyone!
As I was checked in online and as user of the British Airways app, it would have made more sense for me to have received a text message or other kind of notification to my phone which would have alerted me to the cancellation. Either way, I think the whole process could have been done in a more logical manner.
Are you reading this and have some insider knowledge on flight cancellations and how people are automatically rebooked? I’d love to hear any input you may have on why things are as they are.