Not that long ago, I was talking with an airline passenger who was complaining about a major US airline carrier having "a habit of" moving flights earlier (that is, the opposite of a delay) to the point where he (and his party) were missing flights, including one connecting flight that had been moved up so early that it boarded while he was still on the incoming flight which was according to its original schedule. I think he was talking about all flights within the US.

Subsequently, I showed up at a US airport 4.5 hours early for a flight figuring that would be plenty of time, but after arrival found that the flight had also been moved earlier by more than four hours, and the gate had changed from one end of the airport to the opposite end (as far apart as two gates could be with an indoor connection). So sorry! Also, it's the last flight of the day on that route.

Under what conditions do airlines do this? It sure would be helpful to be able to better predict such occurrences in the future, or at least understand the causes.

Edit: This question was flagged as a duplicate of that one, which focuses on airlines moving up flights by five or ten minutes. The present question focuses on airlines moving up flights by e.g. an hour or few.

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Are airlines allowed to move up the time of a flight?
    – Michael
    Jan 11, 2017 at 22:01
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    If you won't share them your point is moot... I don't believe any airline actually moved up their scheduled flight by that long.
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 11, 2017 at 22:30
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    It was moved the day of the flight, and as of less than 24 hours earlier the flight was still going out as scheduled. If you don't believe this question, move on to the next one as you clearly don't know enough about this practice to have an answer. It's not worth me revealing all that personal information just to be able to convince a few strangers on the Internet of something that they don't know about and can't shed any insight or understanding on.
    – WBT
    Jan 11, 2017 at 23:59
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    What is "all that personal information" about a flight number?! Jan 12, 2017 at 2:30
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    If you don't want to give a flight number, date airline and departure airport might help. Jan 12, 2017 at 4:26

1 Answer 1


Airlines reschedule flights on a regular basis, moving them forward, backward, cancelling them all together. These changes are usually done several days, weeks or months in advance. But sadly MANY travelers never bother to recheck their itineraries, and thus get caught unaware by the changes. And most check in counter agents assume the traveler is paying attention, so don't point out schedule changes at check in time.

Airlines can reschedule flights on the day of travel due to a specific issue on that date (such as an incoming hurricane, severe winter storm, etc). When they make these last minute changes, they try to contact passengers via email sms or phone numbers. But if you are traveling or if you left your home number on the booking but are at work, these notifications don't get through in a timely manner.

The date the OP mentioned where there were multiple flights moved up, likely had a weather related issue at the departure airport or an upstream airport. The grumbling passenger was probably just that a grumbler, trying to get sympathy by exaggerating his situation.

  • @pnuts Yes, but they try to get as many passengers notified and on that plane as they can, less folks to re-route later. Travelers tend to view the plane for their flight only, but most aircraft have multiple flights (as do the crews) each day and not having the plane in position can have a cascading effect.
    – user13044
    Jan 12, 2017 at 2:33
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    We have no idea where the planes were going in the situation mentioned. There could have been an upstream issue that they wanted to get planes in & out of the next airport. I had a flight moved forward by four hours for that exact reason, a typhoon heading towards the next airport and they wanted to get planes in and out of the airport well ahead of the storm's anticipated landfall.
    – user13044
    Jan 12, 2017 at 3:02
  • Check in counters in my experience are pretty good about telling you of changes, and if you checked in 30 mins before departure as the OP claimed he did they would definitely say something. Jan 12, 2017 at 4:07
  • @DJClayworth - my comment about check in counters was aimed at changes made well in advance and the silly tourists that don't bother checking their itineraries in advance to see if things have changed. Obviously last minute changes would be relayed at check in time.
    – user13044
    Jan 12, 2017 at 4:12
  • I agree. Just putting a different take. Jan 12, 2017 at 4:25

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