Persistence Convinces Continental To Abandon Impossible Itinerary

Continental thought 82 minutes was plenty of time for Chris to catch a flight connecting in Newark from Washington to Delhi. It might be, but Continental’s own data show that the Washington flight arrives late 96% of the time by 103 minutes on average. Chris wanted to switch to an earlier flight so he could make the once-daily plane to Delhi, but Continental wouldn’t let him switch unless he paid a $250 change fee. Unsatisfied with the answer, Chris hung up and kept calling back until he got the answer he wanted.

He writes:

I booked an itinerary on Continental from Washington-Dulles to Delhi, India via Newark last month because their schedule happened to fit my schedule. My layover in Newark is 1h22m, which might be a bit short, but didn’t seem like it was cutting it too close. Recently, I thought I might check into how on-time my flight to Newark is…and one website claims it’s 37% on time (with an average 103min delay), and Continental claims it’s 4% on time. I called and tried to reason with them that this almost guarantees I’ll miss their one flight daily to India and it makes sense to let me change to an earlier flight. Obviously, I’m trying to avoid the $250 change fee, but my arguments were to no avail. Is there any way that I can successfully get them to change without charging me (or at least charging me less than $250)? Thanks.

Update: It turns out being persistent and calling their reservations line until you get a sympathetic rep works (fourth time is the charm). I was almost speechless when she offered to change me to an earlier flight for no charge (especially after the first three told me it would be at least $250 change fee plus $113 fare increase). It really made my day and now I feel much less stressed about the possibility of missing my flight. I might even pick Continental more in the future because of this.

(Photo: FlyGuy92586)