Centrav Resources
What causes airline schedule changes?

What You Need to Know About Airline Schedule Changes

Uptick in schedule changes due to changing demand for travel

Why am I getting so many schedule changes? It’s the question many travel agents are asking right now as they receive schedule changes notices for so many of their reservations — sometimes receiving multiple changes on one itinerary. So what’s behind it?

As spring and summer travel goes into full swing, travel schedules get more complicated. Coordinating thousands of flights with different times, routings, and destinations is a complicated endeavor.

Each airline must ensure they have enough pilots and flight attendants in the right place at the right time. There are codeshare agreements, layovers, and weather delays to manage. When one thing changes, everything changes. Right now, everything is kind of changing all the time. Will schedule changes slow down? Absolutely! But for now, it is important to check and double-check flight schedules in the time leading up to your clients’ trips.

At Centrav, one of our primary goals is to take the complexity out of airfare so you can focus your time and attention on your clients. We handle ticketing, debit memos, changes, and cancellations through our team of experienced airfare experts. Another task we take off your plate is monitoring airline schedule changes. When a change is made to your clients’ reserved or ticketed itineraries, we are alerted and work with you to make sure your clients are protected on the best itinerary available.

You might receive an airline schedule change notice alerting you to changes such as new departure or arrival times, new flight numbers, or changed or discontinued routing. In each of these circumstances, Centrav will alert you and work with you to keep your clients protected on the best schedule available.

7 Frequently Asked Questions on Airline Schedule Changes

1. Does Centrav cause schedule changes?

No. All schedule changes come to us directly from the airlines. We do not initiate any schedule changes, but we are here to assist you in resolving them!

2. Why do airline schedule changes occur?

Airlines can make changes to their flight times and routes for a variety of reasons. Minor changes might occur because the airline has switched the aircraft used for that flight to a newer or faster plane. A major change might occur if the airline has added or removed flights to their schedules. So while airlines are allowed to make these changes, you do have some options if the new schedule creates a major conflict.

3. What are the airlines required to offer my passenger?

The rules for what an airline will offer during a forced schedule change vary depending on the airline. They are required to offer a “suitable alternative,” but the exact parameters of this are defined by the airline. If a similar schedule is not available, an airline will often offer to reprotect a traveler on another schedule in the same class of service or issue a refund.  The airline will not put you on another carrier due to a schedule change.

4. What if a change causes a missed connection?

An airline is required to keep all connecting flights on one ticket within legal connection times. They are not required to make sure your clients’ new schedule coincides with flights booked on a separate ticket. This is why it’s important to book everything on one ticket where possible. This is impossible, of course, if you are booking airlines that don’t have a ticketing agreement. In that case, it is important to leave plenty of connection time in case the first flight is delayed or changed to a later time.

5. What happens when a schedule change occurs?

When a schedule change comes through to Centrav in the GDS, our agent support team monitors and reviews these changes. If the change is less than 90 minutes off, our team will accept the change and notify you. If it’s more than 90 minutes off, we will notify you and let you know what your options are. When there is a change in equipment or a change in carrier (e.g. a Delta-operated flight is now Air France-operated) your client will lose their seat assignment and you will need to reconfirm with the airline.

6. When will Centrav process my schedule change?

Centrav processes all airline schedule changes in departure date order. Rest assured that your client’s schedule change is a top priority to us!

7. What about last-minute schedule changes?

If a change to a schedule occurs within a couple of days of departure, the airlines will usually contact them directly. This is why it is important to add your client’s phone number and email address within the reservation. In addition, travel advisors should reconfirm flights directly with the airlines 48-72 hours prior to departure. If there was a change that the airline failed to communicate to Centrav, it is much easier to handle at that point rather than at the time of check-in.

Keep your clients informed

Airfares are rising now so even though booking in advance means you get a lot of changes, you are still saving money. Be sure to advise your clients that schedule changes may occur and let them know why. This will help alleviate any frustration in the future!

Are you looking for more resources on how to use Centrav’s website and services? Check out our Trip Builder guide or tips for booking group travel!

Shawna Levet

Shawna is passionate about helping travel agents grow their business and expand their knowledge as travel experts. She has been in the travel industry since 2011, helping agents and travelers alike find the best negotiated airfare and travel coverage to meet their needs.


  • One thing you didn’t mention is the sometimes, even if it appears to be a minor change, seat assignments may be changed or even cancelled. The travel consultant should always confirm seat assignment and re-select if needed.

    • Yes, this is correct! We have added this reminder — thank you for the suggestion, Stephanie!

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