OP here! So, details. First of all, yes, of course I know that a verbal confirmation isn't binding. We have an online system where you have to 'book' it and then your scheduler will approve it when they find cover (someone has to physically be in the office always). I had spoken to my scheduler almost 2 months ago how if I did this and swapped that etc., I could fly home slightly earlier which would save me literally hundreds of pounds in tickets. I put the request in about a month ago (so giving an additional month of notice). Never in my time here have any of my requests been denied, I gave lots of notice and we'd had a discussion about why this is a slightly special occasion, and I've helped them out loads with last minute covers etc., so I had no reason to think she wouldn't eventually cover it. She has managed to cover 2/3 days and this one is right in the middle. The reason there is no cover is because they haven't managed to fill the whole team in a YEAR which means that my side of the shift is always covered with freelancers, so these shifts were covered first. There are also some people who freelance in multiple departments in the same company and because my scheduler left it too late, they're already snatched up by those teams. So, basically, if they'd covered the vacant shifts sooner, this situation wouldn't have happened.