Airline policy in case of schedule change

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    I’m here reporting a quite interesting case regarding a schedule change with a ticket issued by SATA/Azores Airlines, which is the second largest Portuguese airline, after TAP Air Portugal, with whom it has a code-share agreement on domestic flights to/from Azores, Madeira and the Portuguese mainland.

    Below you can find the chronological sequence of events:

    1) On the 12th March 2022, the tickets corresponding to the booking reference KLMFMQ were issued, with the following itinerary:

    FNC-LIS S48016 29 OCT 5h15 – 6h55 (operated by TP1690)
    LIS-HOR S4151 29 OCT 7h45 – 9h30
    HOR-LIS S4150 1 NOV 10h40 – 14h10
    LIS-FNC S48087 1 NOV 17h10 – 18h55 (operated by TP1687)

    2) On the 8th April 2022, Azores Airlines informed, via SMS, a schedule change on the leg LIS-FNC S48087, which changed to:

    LIS-FNC S48087 1 NOV 21h10 – 22h55 (operated by TP1687) (changed to 4h later)

    3) On the 13th April 2022, I contacted Azores Airlines, via chatbox, on their website, requesting the change for an alternative flight, the one with the schedule that most closely matches the original departure time, that is: LIS-FNC S48025 1 NOV 18h50 – 20h35 (operated by TP1691)

    4) Surprisingly Azores Airlines, refused the requested change, as they did not consider it an involuntary change, because the schedule change (SC) was less than 5h00. Therefore, they required a payment for the flight change (75 EUR) which is the fare rule for voluntary changes;

    5) Against my request, Azores Airlines decided to revalidate the tickets, on the 19th April 2022, accepting the leg LIS-FNC S48087 1 NOV 21h10 – 22h55;

    6) On the 23th April 2022 I personally contacted Azores Airlines ticket desk, at PDL airport, their homebase, and the agent in charge was quite surprised with the case and told me that, if the tickets had not yet been revalidated, she would have been able to go through with the flight change, as involuntary, without any cost;

    7) Despite all the arguments, Azores Airlines keeps their decision, in accordance with the EU Regulation 261/2004, article 6 “delays”, which also predicts “assistance” on delays over 2h00 (meals and beverages), thus, being applicable only to delays on the departure day and not SC;

    Moreover, this SC policy is quite different from the other airlines which I have previously flown, such as TAP Air Portugal, Lufthansa, SWISS, Turkish Airlines, Aegean Airlines or LATAM. Mostly all of them, when the SC is over 15 min allow the flight change, to an alternative flight within the same cabin class, without any cost, even more when there are flight connections, as is the case.

    Do you know other airline policies regarding SC?


    Dear Blackprince,
    I am now happily retired after 34 years (whose last 25 years as ticketing expert and customer care, working initially on a local level, then worldwide) in a major European airline. During these last years, rules have become more customer oriented, rather than carrier, which is very good and very bad at the same time. I could tell thousands (not exaggerating) of cases/episodes, where customers committed fraud, but had their turnovers. According to IATA, a customer has the right to decline, or not to accept, any schedule change, even of 1 minute. Carriers tend to make their own policy and apparently this is the case. You must definitely ask the carrier to apply 261, actually the rule does not indicate a specific time frame (5 minutes or 5 hours…). I think you we’re assisted by a very rigid agent, or SATA is a bit overconfident with its own rules.
    Cheers from Eurovision City!


    Thank you for your comments. I have to say that, after 3 weeks of email exchanges, and after the case was reported to Madeira Island Regional Service of Consumer Protection, the case was finally solved, as SATA changed the booking for the requested flight LIS-FNC.

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