Last October, we were supposed to take our younger daughter to Ireland for fall break, but an unfortunate accident left her with a surgically repaired arm with pins and a plate and enough restrictions to make the trip a bad idea. We decided to rebook for this coming October instead. She’s fully recovered now and on her way to Israel for Spring Break.
I canceled the Ireland flights and hotel reservations. We had planned to meet her in Newark as it’s close to her college. Luckily, there had been a schedule change on the outbound flight from Newark to Dublin so LifeMiles did not charge me a cancellation fee. I did have a small cancellation fee on our return from Dublin to Philadelphia via Aer Lingus, but got all the Avios back in my account. None of the hotel/Airbnb’s/tours cost me anything to cancel as I was still within the cancellation window for all.
I turned my attention to this year and hoped to book us in business class both ways. While it’s a short overnight flight on the outbound and a slightly longer daytime flight on the return, we’ve been spoiled by flying long-haul business on our last few trips. I found award flights on British Airways’ new Club Suites from Newark to Dublin through London on the date we need. I actually booked through Cathay Pacific Asia Miles as the mileage cost was similar (61kpp vs 60kpp) but the fees were significantly less ($230pp vs. $750pp). I also had some points in my account from an old cancellation so I did not need to transfer the full amount.
With the outbound booked (my wife and I will take an early afternoon Delta flight to Newark for 7k SkyMiles), I turned my attention to the return. I was trying to use those Avios from last year’s trip, but could not find anything on the nonstop Aer Lingus flight to Newark or Philadelphia except economy seats to Philly. I decided to hold off and see if anything else popped up.
I was doing some random Google Flights searches one day and happened to see that there was a $1450 business class round-trip from Dublin to Newark on British Airways. The lowest price was only bookable through American Airlines, it’s OneWorld partner. I even looked at Amex Travel to use the 35% points rebate through the Business Platinum card, but the price went up to $1750pp that way. Even though it was a special, nonrefundable business class fare, I could still use a credit for the return portion on an AA flight within a year of the outbound flight. I booked the flights, including a return flight that we would cancel for credit after using the outbound from Dublin. Don’t forget we would all also earn a decent amount of AA miles on this paid ticket.
Last week, I received a schedule change notice via email. We were originally scheduled to leave Dublin around 3pm and arrive in Newark via London at 10pm. That means my wife and I would spend the night at the Newark Marriott Airport and then fly home to Atlanta the next morning. Not ideal, but worth it as we wanted to leave Dublin in the afternoon so we could drive to the airport from Kilkenny and not have to get to the Dublin area the night before. The afternoon BA flight had been canceled so we were put on the morning BA flight with a seven hour layover in London.
The key here is that AA allows you to change a ticket if you have a schedule change of four hours or more. This change was about five hours. I called AA and asked about being placed on the afternoon Aer Lingus flight to London instead. Despite Aer Lingus and AA being codeshare partners, the rep was unable to place us on that flight as there were no more codeshare seats to sell.
I had another idea. AA has a nonstop from Dublin to Philadelphia that leaves around 2pm. I asked about being placed on that flight. It took a few minutes for her to get approval from a higher-up, but she got us moved to that flight! My daughter would have a slightly more expensive Uber from Philly instead of Newark, but my wife and I could get home the same night. We also avoided a connection at Heathrow and will be flying nonstop in business on the AA 787. I even found a flight on AA from Philly to Atlanta for 7500 AA miles per person (vs $204pp) about two hours after our flight arrives from Dublin. With Global Entry/Precheck etc., we will hopefully have no issues making that flight. I was even able to select Main Cabin Extra seats thanks to my temporary Platinum Pro status with AA via Hyatt Globalist.
The lesson here is to always research your options before you call. I knew about the nonstop Dublin-Philly flight. I also knew the possible options to connect in London. We were able to keep our afternoon departure from Dublin and get home the same day which is a huge improvement thanks to BA’s schedule change.
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