Q: Several weeks ago, we booked a Continental flight from to Edinburgh, Scotland with a connection in Newark. As our departure date approaches, I have been checking the flight status of both flights the flight to Newark and the onward flight to Scotland. On at least eight occasions during the past three weeks, our inbound connecting flight has either been cancelled or has arrived too late to connect with our flight to Edinburgh. Since the flight to Edinburgh is the last one of the day, I really do not look forward to spending the first day of our vacation at the Newark airport. Do you have any suggestions on how we might deal with what appears to be an upcoming problem?
A: I’ve received questions like this on more than one occasion, and it’s a tough one. I have a feeling that if you call Continental to change your departure to Newark to an earlier flight, they’ll attempt to charge you a hefty change fee (assuming you bought a non-refundable ticket). And if your flight to Newark is late because of weather, air traffic delays, or another reason beyond Continental’s control, they might not even pay for your overnight in Newark (not that you’d want to spend the night anyway, as you point out.) However, it’s worth a try: call Continental’s reservation number, and also try to get in touch with the local station manager at your originating airport to see if they’ll put you on an earlier flight to Newark without a change fee. And my advice to others who are connecting to the last flight of the day, wherever that flight might be heading: build in extra connection time if you don’t want to overnight in your connecting city. Generally, you can’t do this when booking online, but a travel agent or an airline reservation agent can usually give you up to a four hour layover in a connecting city so that you’ll be able to make your onward flight. Just bring a good book, or buy a one-day pass to the airline’s club lounge if you hate airport waiting areas.