How to avoid flight changes to Classic Rewards Flights leading to impossible connections?

Hi :wave:,
I am new to this. I booked Qantas classic rewards flights early this year for travel to Canada mid-July (economy one way and premium the other way). It is via LA and partly operated by WestJet. WestJet changed the flights and it now has an impossible connection (departing 2 hours before the other flight lands).
I called Qantas twice but they said that they can’t book me on another flight because there are no reward seats available - even for an earlier Qantas flight to make the new connection (these seats are rather rare so of course, there is no classic reward seat left 5 weeks before departure…). They have offered a cancellation, which is not a desirable outcome. They said they would put a request for another flight to WestJet but my whole trip might get cancelled. They said sometimes reward seats become available closer to the date, but there is nothing guaranteed. They said if I had paid with a combination of money plus points rather than buying classic reward seats, they would have been able to rebook me straightaway (clearly, this is not as good value though). I am still waiting to hear back.
I have seen a few posts here with different outcomes but generally, do these normally get resolved (i.e. rebook on a reasonable alternative flight)?
Is this now common among airlines reward programs?
Not sure how much it played in this case but if it is common, is it advisable to avoid reward flights partly operated by other airlines?
I find this situation rather disappointing to say the least. Thank you so much for any advice on this,
Marie

This practice seems to have started during covid when there were literally no alternative flights for them to transfer you to so the only option was a refund.

You could cancel the Westjet flight only and purchase a separate ticket from LA to Canada.

Which port in Canada is the end destination? If it is a smaller hub, it’s probably understandable that there may be only one flight a day.

Are there any flexibility in your schedule for arrival on the following day or a nearby alternative port or a larger hub like Vancouver/Montreal? Understand there are many remote towns/cities in Canada.

Thank you so much both, yes, it is Montreal. There are plenty of flights but Qantas Classic Rewards seats (regardless of type) for this route are not very common at the best of time (Melbourne - Montreal). An option would have been for us to take a different Qantas / partner flight (we have some flexibility for a different day but within approximately 48 hours from the original flight) but they said the flight needs to have reward seats available, and there are none around these dates at the moment. Given availability of (regular) seats and that the changes are made by the airline, I was incorrectly assuming it would be straightforward to resolve.
If it doesn’t get resolved otherwise and permitted by the airline, the suggestion from Kris of buying a separate flight from LA to Mtl is not ideal but a good back up suggestion to keep our other flights the same. Then, we would have to hope for no other significant changes given the ‘unprotected’ connection.

If I recall correctly from what my friends were saying, Qantas can request but is in no position to “force” partner airlines to open up award space. They could only open up their own award space. However, Qantas does not fly to Montreal.

Hence, if there are no award space available on the partner airline flights, I don’t fancy your chance in getting any award seats unless they miraculously open up more. I would be hedging my bets and booking an alternative flight between LA and Montreal.

I personally would probably not accept the changes and keep checking for award spaces until maybe one week before departure.

Good luck.

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I did a quick search on flights from LA to Montreal. There is only one Westjet direct flight.

You might have better luck if you search for AA
LA to Montreal via Charlotte or Chicago.

Alternatively, if there are award space to Charlotte or Chicago, it will be closer to Montreal and your flight to Montreal should be cheaper.

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Thank you so much, really appreciate the advice,

Initial connection was via Toronto and changed to Vancouver.

I will follow the advice of waiting until a week before. I will keep an eye out for reward flights (and those closer to destination as well). Back up solution is a separate flight. I will update this post with the outcome.

I will rethink how I am booking classic rewards in the meantime…

Thank you again :blush:

Marie

Hi,
Just an update to close this. After a couple of phone calls, they made a request for my flight to be changed. About 3 weeks later, a change came through but… the new connecting flight was now departing 5 hours 40 minutes before the other flight landed. Again, I had a few calls (2 of which were dropped while on hold). At the end, I was told it was unlikely to get resolved but some options might become available less than 72 hours before departure. To avoid further stress within about 10 days of departure, we cancelled, and booked a hotel in LA and a separate direct flight the next day with AirCanada.
Now we are just hoping this gives enough leeway for whatever other changes might happen. I am still very disappointed with the handling of the impossible to make connecting flights. I won’t be doing this route again with classic reward flights.
Thanks again for the advice,
Marie

Thanks for the update. Sorry to hear that the experience has left a sour taste. Unfortunately, that is one of the risk of the frequent flyer game we play. Hope you will still enjoy your travels.