DADventure Disney – Scheduling Flights to Disney – My Cautionary Tale

We love researching the food. The rides. The attractions. The resorts. The FastPasses, even. As my family’s DADventure to Walt Disney World creeps within a week away, my attention is turning towards a few more mundane aspects of the trip planning.

1. Packing (more on this soon!)
2. Travel

Today, I’m talking about our flights.

Finding affordable flights is akin to playing the stock market. The price looks high one week, REALLY low the next week, then back up and then down … but when does it hit the low point? When do I finally say BOOK IT?

I was nervous about finding a good price to stay within my budget. Family suggested I use an app called Hopper. It does a bit of the guess work for you and tells you (daily or weekly) what the current rate is for a flight from your airport of choice to your destination.

It then sends you notifications of the current pricing, if the going rate is ‘good’ or whether they believe it still may dip down more in the future. But, it’s still a crap shoot.

For my purposes, I’m flying from Rhode Island to Orlando. I wanted a direct flight. I wanted a morning flight to Orlando and a later flight back to Rhode Island to maximize our time in the parks. I wanted Jet Blue because my little kids will have screen time in front of their noses the whole time and make the 2.5 hour flight fly by with a little help from Daniel Tiger and friends.

In April of this year (SEVEN months prior to our trip) I saw a rate I liked and pulled the trigger.

Now, there aren’t a lot of options for direct flights between Rhode Island and Orlando. In fact, there is an early morning flight and an evening flight.

I booked a 6:00am departure from Rhode Island. I can get the kids to bed early that night before and get the kids up at 4 (they usually wake up around 5 or 530 anyway). It’s a small airport and we don’t need too much time for security and getting to our gate. We would arrive in Orlando at 9:07am, hop on the Mickey’s Magical Express to our resort, and then hit the parks for some early lunch and get the ball rolling while waiting for our room to be ready.

Photo: JetBlue

The flight home departs at 8:40pm from Orlando. We’ll have sleepy kids who didn’t get to nap that day, due to checking out of the hotel, but they’ll sleep on the flight and we’ll have the weekend to re-adjust. That would give us a nice full last day in the parks, too.

It’s a plan that would stretch our comfort level with the three little kids, but we’re willing to do it for the sake of a fun Disney Vacation.

I reserved our seats for the first row beyond first class (row 6!) – the SAME seats going to Orlando AND coming back from Orlando. Keep it familiar for the kids and quick to get off the plane.

Look at Row 6. It is perfect!

Booked. Done. Let’s move on and plan the rest of the trip.

HOOOLLLDD ON!!! NOT SO FAST!!

On October 6th (SIX months after booking this flight) I get an email from Jet Blue with the subject line:

“Important Changes to your Upcoming Flight”

Uh oh. What’s that they say about the best laid plans?

Dear JetBlue Customer,

We want to let you know about a change to your upcoming flight with us.

Yeah. Want to know the changes?

Our 6:00am flight has been bumped up to 5:01am (Hey kids, we’re waking up at 2:30am!)
Our 8:40pm flight home has been bumped BACK to 10:10pm (Hey kids, we land at 12:44am!)

Photo: JetBlue

NIGHTMARE.

You know what? We can roll with the early morning flight. We’ll just hit our room as soon as it’s ready and have a nice early night our first day. I removed any dining reservations for arrival day and have the entire day as OPEN to do whatever we feel works for us. I made a few FastPasses in case, but if we don’t use them, no worries.

But a 10:10pm flight home, on a day where there is NO chance for a nap, just doesn’t work for kids aged 5, 3 and 1 … or their parents. We land at 12:44am IF there isn’t any delay (yeah right) and then have to shuttle to the parking lot and then its an hour drive home. We’ll all feel ruined after a magical trip to Disney.

So, I had to kill a day in the parks. I contacted JetBlue and moved our 10:10pm flight to the only other flight that day – 1:54pm. JetBlue did the change with no cost as they admitted fault for moving the times. But it still sucks.

Our wonderful row 6 seats, all sitting together, have changed to the VERY LAST seats in the plane, split up 2 and 2 and on the aisle.

Yeah, row 23 and 24… not so perfect.

That new time means Magical Express will want to pick up us at our resort around 10am, I’m guessing. We’ve lost an entire day in the parks. Bummer. We paid for 6 day passes. We only get to use 5.

Photo: Disney

Walt Disney World was great and listened to our story. They are crediting us back the difference in the cost of the 6th day of hopper passes, without the charge to do so. I’m sure it’s not the first time they had to do that.

Anyway – it’s a bummer.

Due to a JetBlue scheduling change, my family lost an entire day of our vacation. We tried to stay an extra day and fly home the next morning, but the flight was totally booked. We can’t change airports as our car will be in Rhode Island (even with family offering to pick us up and drive us to our car – that’s too much to ask).

We thought about staying a whole extra day and flying home on Sunday, but that’s the start of Thanksgiving week at Walt Disney World and any hotel that’s under $500 a night is fully booked.

Hey, we tried. I flipped a few FastPasses we booked for that return day to earlier in the week. We didn’t have any ADRs scheduled and of course we aren’t on the Dining Plan (Read Why I HATE The New Disney Dining Plan For Families with Kids). We’re going to have an amazing time on the days we’re there. We may have to pack a bit more into the other 5, but I know we won’t miss out on anything.

I’m just bummed we miss a whole other day to relax and be in the magic.


What would you have done? Ever have anything like this happen to you before? Share with me in the comments below or on Instagram and Facebook. I promise to reply and keep the conversation going.

Thanks for reading. Always remember, DADventure is out there!

Cheers,
Keith

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