Flying to, I mean Columbus!
May 7, 2010 2:17 PM   Subscribe

Airline ticketing question: what happens to our return ticket if we get off the plane a stop early?

We want to go to Cleveland OH in August. The airfare to Cleveland is $370, but the fare to Columbus is $270. Here's the thing - the flight to Columbus stops in Cleveland before it gets to Columbus. So stupid.

We could just get off when it arrives in Cleveland, but that would throw off their head count for the final leg to Columbus. I figure this may have a detrimental effect on our return ticket, like cancellation.

Is there a way to do this and save a C-note?
posted by DandyRandy to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
This is a common question here. Check out this thread and the links therein.

Short answer: Your return flight will get cancelled.
posted by vacapinta at 2:21 PM on May 7, 2010

to my understanding, not completing your entire trip is reason for cancellation of the return trip on most if not all airlines. and in the post 9/11 world, it could get you looked at with some interest and suspicion.
posted by nadawi at 2:23 PM on May 7, 2010

Just to add an additional anecdote, I flew last week. Somehow, on the first leg of my trip, I got listed as a no-show by the airline (maybe my boarding pass didn't scan correctly?) and they immediately canceled my return flight, which led to 45 minutes of tsuris on the phone with USAir customer service, trying to get the damn thing reinstated. (I was lucky there were still available seats.) So, yeah...don't do it.
posted by cowboy_sally at 2:45 PM on May 7, 2010

The practical effect is different for the outbound leg of the trip versus the return trip.

"Throw-away" ticketing is prohibited by the contract you agree to when you by the ticket. However, as a practical matter, engaging in "throw-away" ticketing on your RETURN leg (or on a one-way ticket) is not likely to attract the airline's attention.

If you do it on the outbound leg, though -- yeah, you risk getting the entire round-trip canceled.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 2:58 PM on May 7, 2010

Your return tickets will be canceled. Like QuantumMeruit said, it's not uncommon to do that on the last leg of a trip.

Did you get these prices from looking at airfares online? It might be a good idea to call a (or your) travel agent and explain the situation; they'll save you money.
posted by halogen at 3:37 PM on May 7, 2010

Yep, your return ticket will be cancelled. Happened to me in 1990 when I decided to switch my original plans around while on military leave. Fortunately being in the military and young (and at the time "we [actually] support our troops" sentiment and "military discounts" were everywhere due to Desert Shield) they fixed it for me, but it taught me a lesson.
posted by crapmatic at 6:24 PM on May 7, 2010

It's already been stated- It'll get your return trip cancelled.

Why not try booking the flights separately? That way, if you do ditch the last leg of the flight, they can't do anything about it .
posted by shesaysgo at 8:27 PM on May 7, 2010

Your return trip will get canceled. Learned it the hard way.
posted by tamitang at 9:02 PM on May 7, 2010

Don't they have exceptions? E.g. is an unannounced no-show the same as a no-show that you let them know about? What if someone tells them "I just found out mid-flight that my dog died / I forgot my baby / I left the stove on and can't make the rest of today's flight, but I want to keep my return ticket"?

I'm not trying to endorse lying to the airlines, but, to all the anecdoters above: did you just 'not show up' and then the airline cancelled your ticket, or did you also mention to them that you couldn't make the next leg of the flight? This seems like it'd be a relevant distinction.
posted by astrochimp at 9:03 AM on May 8, 2010

Also, I'm not sure about the US, but where I live, if you're flying domestically, it costs it no cheaper to book a round-trip ticket than it is just to book two separate one-way tickets. Could this be an option (presuming that they wouldn't cancel your other ticket, given that the return flight isn't on the same booking as in the case of a round-trip ticket)?
posted by astrochimp at 9:22 AM on May 8, 2010

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