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An airline in question has 3 flight a day to my destination, one ridiculously early in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one late night. Because the afternoon one was the only one convenient for me (travelling with baby), I've booked afternoon one, even though it costed a bit more. A week later after I've received following email:

Unfortunately, we had to change your booking. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Please carefully review your new flight information (date, time, flight number, airport of departure). If you agree to accept the change, please click the button in the lower left corner of the page. If you do not agree, we advise you to contact the call centre to change your booking (in that case a surcharge will apply, as listed in the fare conditions and general conditions of carriage).

Please be reminded: it is essential that you respond to this e-mail, since we need to know whether you are aware of the changes in your booking.

The change in question is changing my reservation from afternoon to late night. Thus far I did not accept the change nor acknowledge that I'm aware of it.

What are practical options to deal with the situation?


Update to answer comments:

Airline is based in the Netherlands, thus EU and Dutch regulations apply.

As for fare conditions, seems that relevant part reads:

2.The applicable flight schedule is the flight schedule that applies on the date of departure. The flight schedule may be amended after the Ticket has been issued. In that case, the Passengers will be informed using the contact details provided when the booking was made. The Passenger is responsible for providing Carrier with his/her contact details through which he/she may be contacted in the event of changes to the flight schedule(s). Nevertheless, Passengers must check with Carrier prior to the scheduled date of departure whether the flight schedules as stated on their Tickets have not been changed. In the event of a change to the schedule that is inconvenient to the Passenger, the Passenger may request a refund as referred to in Article X(2)

However, not sure how can I verify, that they actually canceled the flight, not just overbooked (it's 6 months from now, so it doesn't show up on airport's timetable yet).

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1  
What are the fare conditions and general conditions of carriage? –  Gilles Jan 25 '13 at 22:00
8  
Which airline, country you made the booking in, and where you were flying from and to? All could affect the answer. –  Mark Mayo Jan 25 '13 at 22:01
    
Maybe somebody in customer service (if exists) can help move the flight to a different time while also putting you on a wait list for the original time? Also, maybe they could comp you with a free flight? –  robrtc Jan 26 '13 at 10:16
    
What country are you flying from, flying to, and what is the nationality of the airline? You have quite a few rights if it's a flight governed under US or EU regulations, but some other places it's much less... –  Gagravarr Jan 26 '13 at 12:27
    
There's probably more chance of catching a flying pig to the destination than a low-cost carrier giving a free flight for a cancellation 6 months in advance. –  Doc Jan 26 '13 at 17:50
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Given that it's a European flight, EU regulation 261/2004 is relevant, and covers your options.

In addition to the full regulations (linked above), there's a summary on Wikipedia which covers your situation.

In short, as the flight is more than 2 weeks away you are not due any compensation, however Atricle 8 of EU 261/2004 does explicitly call out what options the airline has to give you in this case. Specifically :

Right to reimbursement or re-routing

  1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered the choice between: (a) — reimbursement within seven days, by the means provided for in Article 7(3), of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger's original travel plan, together with, when relevant, — a return flight to the first point of departure, at the earliest opportunity; (b) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity; or (c) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at a later date at the passenger's convenience, subject to availability of seats.

  2. Paragraph 1(a) shall also apply to passengers whose flights form part of a package, except for the right to reimbursement where such right arises under Directive 90/314/EEC.

  3. When, in the case where a town, city or region is served by several airports, an operating air carrier offers a passenger a flight to an airport alternative to that for which the booking was made, the operating air carrier shall bear the cost of transferring the passenger from that alternative airport either to that for which the booking was made, or to another close-by destination agreed with the passenger.

The airline will be very aware of these conditions (and is likely in breach of other section of the code if they have not advised you of it's existence and that it is relevant), so if you're finding them uncooperative, then you should need to do little more than mention that you are aware of your rights under EU261 and they will most likely change their answers very quickly!

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