Tet plans messed up for passengers as flight schedules changed constantly

By Gia Minh, Doan Loan   January 26, 2024 | 11:00 pm PT
Tet plans messed up for passengers as flight schedules changed constantly
Passengers wait to complete procedures to fly back to their hometown for the 2023 Tet at HCMC's Tan Son Nhat airport, January 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Airlines are constantly changing Tet flight timings, even repeatedly in some cases, throwing passengers' plans for the year's biggest holiday into disarray.

Hong Ngoc, 40, bought tickets on a Vietnam Airlines flight from HCMC to Vinh in central Vietnam for her family three months in advance after making detailed plans for travel during Tet.

But all their plans mean nothing now as the airline has changed the flight timing at least twice in recent days.

They were initially booked to fly at 7:20 p.m. on Feb. 7, three days before the Lunar New Year, and arrive in Vinh one and a half hours later.

Then the airline informed her that the flight would take off at 2 p.m. for "flight arrangement reasons."

"I rearranged work I had that afternoon to match the new schedule, but then the airline changed it again, to 2:15 a.m. the next day," she said, adding she is not sure this would be the last change.

Her family now has to be at the airport by midnight and will reach Vinh at around 3:45 a.m.

She expects her two young children, one less than three years old, to be worn out by the late flight.

"Constant flight changes have messed up all my plans for the holiday."

There are similar problems also for passengers booking on other airlines.

Nguyen Thu, 38, booked tickets for herself and her husband on VietJet Air from HCMC to Thanh Hoa at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 5.

But the airline has informed her that the departure has been postponed to 9:35 p.m.

Thu said: "We will arrive in Thanh Hoa very late and it will be very hard to find a car home. So I plan to stay at a hotel near the airport for the night."

A spokesperson for an airline, which does not want its name revealed, said tickets are sold once a flight is approved. But when airlines add more flights to meet the surge in demand during Tet, they have to rearrange their schedules and some flights would be affected, but passengers are informed of all changes.

A Civil Authority of Aviation of Vietnam (CAAV) official claimed airlines need to adjust to real demand, which could change from the time when they sell tickets months earlier.

But CAAV has not received many complaints from passengers, and it would look into it if that happens, the official added.

Cases of airlines constantly changing Tet flight schedules have happened over the years, but moving flights to another day, like Ngoc's case, is rare.

The Tet holidays are from Feb. 8 to 14.

According to CAAV, the number of flights has been increased this year. Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC has been approved for 46 takeoffs and landings during the day and 42 at night, more than in recent years.

Vietnam Airlines Group, which also includes Pacific Airlines and Vietnam Air Services Company, has a total of 12,374 flights scheduled during between Jan. 25 and Feb. 24, 10% higher than in the comparable period last year.

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