Understanding the rules for domestic semi-flex fares

By | November 26, 2015
Although I often travel on semi-flex fares on UK domestics, I have rarely needed to exploit the flexibility they offer. A recent experience has suggested that I may not fully understand the rules that apply, or perhaps that agents have differing interpretations of the rules – or even that both these things are true :)

So, I’m seeking either information gained from experience, or from someone who believes they truly understand the fare rules, and in particular the part that applies to fee-free changes on the day of travel. In particular – is there a time limit for requesting that change? Does it have to be made before the departure time of the originally-booked flight? Does it have to be made before special cut-off time before the new flight?

I ask because last week I was booked on an evening departure (18.35) from LHR to EDI on a semiflex ticket. On the day my plans changed leaving me free much earlier than I had expected. I thought I might just make the 16,30, but certainly the 17.35. I got to the customer service desk at 15.31. I was surprised to be told that if I wanted to get on the 16.30, there would be a fare difference to pay. The agent said that fee-free changes could only be made more than 1hr before the departure time of the new flight. I didn’t argue, switched to the 17.35 and sampled the wine offerings in the lounge instead.

This week I booked another semi-flex for the same LHR-EDI flight. I looked closely at the conditions during the booking process and nowhere could I see this rule mentioned. On this occasion, there’s a significant chance that I won’t get to LHR in time to make conformance, which will mean a much later flight. I want the flexibility to be on the earlier flight if possible, and to have a fee-free change to the later flight if it isn’t. Semi-flex seems ideal for this. But I’m now concerned about when and how I have to make the change. Does it have to be done before the original departure time, or is it more like a fully-flex ticket on the day? If I check in for the original flight online, does that make a difference?

Thanks for any insight anyone can offer.

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