You'd think it's simple. I'm scheduled on a 1:30 flight tomorrow from SFO-JFK. I'll be done a little earlier. American has an 11:15 a.m. flight. As I write, there 11 seats available. No problem, you'd think. Pay a nominal fee and you can leave two hours early. Au contraire, mon ami. If I want to confirm something, it will cost me a $150 change fee plus a fare adjustment of about $200. $350 incremental (my entire ticket right now is $439) for two hours earlier. My other option is to go to the airport in time for the early flight and go standby. Get on, great. Otherwise, sit there an additional 2-1/4 hours.
The way I see it, my options are extortion or Russian Roulette. Neither of these is good business. If this weren't the airlines business, the government would say "can we wire you; those activities are illegal."
This is the same American that shows commercials about a business traveler wanting to get home to see their family. So now, instead of landing at 8:05, getting home by 10...and seeing my kids before they go to sleep...instead now, I land at 10:10, home by, oh, midnight. Thanks, American; put that in your commercial.
Yet another reason I'm flying JetBlue next time...