How much of your ticket is my responsibility?
November 29, 2012 6:30 PM   Subscribe

Who owes what to whom for a plane ticket?

In short, my (now ex) gf and I bought flight tickets for an international trip over Christmas. Since then I broke up with her (no big drama, it just wasn't working out) and she is no longer interested in traveling with me despite the fact that we are on decent terms. She asked me to pay her for the unused ticket, which I was ok with at first, but I have discovered that it is not only non-refundable (and possible to reschedule for another international flight in the next year) but non-transferable as well, which means she is the only person who can use the ticket or reschedule another flight.

The way I see it is this: yes, I take some blame for this since I initiated the break up, but at the same time she purchased the ticket and has some responsibility for the cost. Since she is the only person who can use the ticket (or credit), me paying her back in full is just throwing the ticket (and cost) in the garbage. I would be happy to eat the difference if she decides to reschedule and travel somewhere else on her own and it turns out to be cheaper.

Of course I will talk to her about this and we will have a reasonable discussion, but I am curious to know how much people think my responsibility is in this situation. How much of the ticket should I cover: all, some, or none?
posted by princeoftheair to Human Relations (55 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Be the bigger person, pay for the ticket if you can afford to, and be done with it. For all you know, she has no desire to reschedule.
posted by halogen at 6:38 PM on November 29, 2012 [10 favorites]

She should use it to travel somewhere else. She is responsible for it. If she couldn't re-book it for a different flight you could pay her for half ... but I don't understand what the issue is if it's still valid for a different flight? It's a little confusing, she can use it on a different flight, right?
posted by queens86 at 6:39 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

You didn't do your due diligence about the ticket before purchasing. You initiated a breakup *after making travel plans*, and there was the reasonable expectation that your ex-gf would probably would not want to travel with you, and it's gravy that you guys are on "good terms" (which I suspect will deteriorate following your discussion about the ticket).

You should probably eat this one.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:39 PM on November 29, 2012 [31 favorites]

There's no way I'd ever go on what had been intended to be a romantic holiday with someone who'd just broken up with me. Essentially, you cancelled the trip. I figure this means you owe her for the cost of her ticket.

But if I was in your position, I'd try to make a decent case for her rescheduling a different trip next year, and be clear that I'd cover any reasonable difference. But it's not on her to accept that.
posted by The Monkey at 6:41 PM on November 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

The fact your so recent ex-GF is asking you for the money indicates your understanding of "decent terms" might be a bit skewed.

She is pissed and wants her money. Pay her full for karma's sake.
posted by Kruger5 at 6:42 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

You each paid for your own ticket? Then, since it's her ticket paid for with her money, and there's no way for anyone else to use it, no, you shouldn't pay her for it. Yes, it would be nice if you paid or helped pay for any transfer fees, but the cost of the ticket is entirely on her.

Apparently what she wants is having her cake and eating it too: a ticket she can transfer/reschedule and use at will, but with someone else (you) paying for it.
posted by easily confused at 6:45 PM on November 29, 2012 [6 favorites]

You're within your rights to ask her if she might like to travel on the ticket next year, and offer to cover any change fees so you don't end up eating the whole cost. However, she's within her rights to say no, and I could understand that -- if you'd broken up before buying the tickets, she might prefer to save her money rather than spend it on a trip for herself next year.
The decent thing to do is pay the whole cost.
posted by PercussivePaul at 6:49 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

i don't know how being dumped right before christmas by someone who says they just weren't feeling it is someone having their cake and eating it too. i would pay for the ticket if i could afford it. sometimes being the heartbreaker means going an extra step to make things as right as you can. you can explain that the ticket is only useable by her and offer to pay any change fees (which might be considerable, so prepare yourself for that), but i think if she doesn't want to use the ticket at all, you should just give her the money.
posted by nadawi at 7:03 PM on November 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

Relationships end. It's just a sad fact of life.

If you were thinking of dumping her but lead her to believe everything was okay and went ahead and made these travel plans and then decided to dump her anyway, you might ethically owe her some compensation for letting her buy the ticket without knowing the risk.

But if your relationship seemed fine when you bought the tickets and has since become not fine -- even if the only change in the interim was that you thought deeply about the relationship and decided it wasn't working -- I don't think you owe her anything just because you decided the relationship wasn't working. That leads to things like staying in the relationship so you don't have to pay back the plane ticket, and that's beyond cruel.

If you can do it absolutely without financial pain, then it might be worth it just to keep the breakup as peaceful as possible, but I don't think you owe it to her at all. Even paying the change fees so she can use the ticket again seems wildly generous.

Everyone who buys a non-refundable plane ticket is taking a chance that they won't use it. That's why they're cheaper. You two took that risk together, and the bad result shouldn't fall all on you.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:12 PM on November 29, 2012 [16 favorites]

Joining the others here who say that you essentially cancelled the trip (by breaking up with her) and should foot the bill.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 7:15 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's a gray area but I think you know which side chivalry would fall on.
posted by slateyness at 7:19 PM on November 29, 2012

You cancelled the trip (effectively). Of course she isn't interested in travelling with you--I mean, come on. If she has no obvious way to use it, you should be footing the bill.
posted by uans at 7:23 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why doesn't she just reschedule and/or pick a different destination and pay the difference?

I suppose the gentlemanly thing to do would be to pay half of that cost or perhaps pick up some aspect of it (for example you pay the change fee but she pays the difference on the new destination/dates).
posted by Sara C. at 7:28 PM on November 29, 2012

I really think the answers here would be different if the genders were switched. Unless you somehow coerced her into buying nonrefundable tickets, or laughed a cruel supervillain laugh while she bought her ticket because you planned all along to break up with her and make her lose the money, then you don't really owe her anything. However, paying for her to change the ticket itinerary or date would definitely make you a Good Guy.
posted by elizardbits at 7:32 PM on November 29, 2012 [6 favorites]

Thank you, jacquilynne, for your thoughtful and reasonable response.

Without sounding like a total jerk, can I ask why the decent thing to do would be to take total responsibility for this? I really do want to know. Would it help if you knew I had good reason to break up with her? Or are people assuming I just got bored?
posted by princeoftheair at 7:33 PM on November 29, 2012

my advice would be the same for any gender. i (a woman) paid multiple hundreds of dollars to extract myself from my last relationship with a man because it was the right and kind thing to do in a shitty situation.
posted by nadawi at 7:37 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

We're assuming you got bored because you said, "no big drama, it just wasn't working out."

Which is your prerogative, but in putting the kibosh on this relationship, you also put the kibosh on the trip. None of this -- I assume -- was mutual. So the only reason she isn't going on this trip is because you decided you didn't want to be her boyfriend any more. (Did you REALLY think she was going to still want to go on vacation with someone who broke up with her? For what it's worth, do you really want to GO on vacation with someone you recently dumped? AWKWARD at best.)

I think she would be wise to just pay the change fee and go somewhere with a friend next year, and then not talk to you anymore (not because I think you seem awful or anything, but just because No Contact is my own breakup rule) but the reason she asked you to pay for it is because she is pissed you broke up with her, and this sort of thing is often part of the shitty price one pays as the breaker-upper -- literally, in your case.

Why don't you open the conversation by saying, "look, the ticket is good for a year. Why don't you take a trip later with so-and-so, and I'd be happy to pay the fee to change to flight," as an olive branch?

Personally, I think the bigger person would pay for the entire thing. I think that, if we're just being scrupulously fair and detached, you should probably only pay the change fees. And I think to refuse to pay for it entirely -- in the "you knew what you were getting into when you bought this nonrefundable ticket believing we'd still be together at Christmas" sense -- is going to make you look a little petty and unkind. I don't know if buying that ticket was taking a chance as much as it was taking a leap of faith that your relationship was going to succeed, you know? And because you ended it, I think you karmically should at least try to smooth this over if you can.

Good luck, dude! With any luck, she will take a reasonable offered compromise.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 7:49 PM on November 29, 2012 [10 favorites]

Without sounding like a total jerk, can I ask why the decent thing to do would be to take total responsibility for this? I really do want to know. Would it help if you knew I had good reason to break up with her? Or are people assuming I just got bored?

Because to the break-up-ee it looks like you canceled the trip and didn't refund the money. I mean, yes, it's a grey area, but if you invited me on a trip, as a friend, your family's cabin, and then I bought my plane ticket, and then you disinvited me, I would be pretty pissed. Even if you had a good reason.

Breaking up with people you have trips planned with is basically like disinviting them from traveling with you. I know you don't think it is, but to other people, it is. Even all this "she can change the ticket" stuff might be a way for her to make the best of a bad situation, but she didn't buy an "Arbitrary Travel Unit", she bought a ticket to go on a special vacation, with you, her boyfriend. And then you dumped her. That opportunity is off the table. Of course, no one is arguing you have some legal responsibility here, or even really an ethical one, but under the sadly least-binding "manners" obligation, you should pay for the ticket if you can.

If she dumped you, the situation would be completely different.
posted by jeb at 7:58 PM on November 29, 2012 [9 favorites]

Unless this is some major financial hardship for you, pay for the ticket.
posted by festivus at 8:02 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

i was always under the impression that "all bets were off" when a relationship ends. sure, if you are a woman and engaged, the honorable thing to do would be to return the ring, but i have known plenty of women who pawned it instead (i know a long talk could be had about how the historic purpose of an engagement ring was to provide security if the engagement was called off, IMO this no longer applies in today's society). returning it earns you respect, but it's not like it's a requirement. i've also known SOs who were left to foot the bill when a wedding was called off.

your situation is unique, as she can be seen as relying on the continuance of your relationship for that ticket to hold value. if you can afford it, i would say do the honorable thing and pay her for the ticket. you'll earn good kharma and respect from friends. a few years from now no one will remember or care about this relationship or money, even you, however a bad rumor of you "screwing her over" could linger, whether that is the case or not.
posted by camdan at 8:02 PM on November 29, 2012

A (perhaps poor) analogy: you were the organizer of Performance Troupe X. You found a number of participants to sing and dance to your original music. This is not a job -more a volunteer, extracurricular activity- but you and your group work on original material for one year.

You announce that a friend in NYC, who owns a small black box theater, has invited the troupe to perform. Your big break! But the troupe has no joint money, so you ask each member to buy a ticket. They agree, because they want in on the big performance they've been working so hard on.

A month before the show, you realize you are way stressed directing a troupe of 5, so you ask Anna, the second alto, to leave the troupe. This is not because of her performance or commitment to the show. You just can't direct 5 people without your hair falling out; you think it will be easier with 4.

She cannot get a refund on her ticket, and has no obvious reason of her own to go to NYC. Would you not front Anna any of the costs in this situation?

I think the suggestion above of paying the change fee is reasonable, and in Anna's case, the very least you could do.

You're call, though.
posted by vivid postcard at 8:06 PM on November 29, 2012

Er, or what jeb said. I think his analogy beats mine.
posted by vivid postcard at 8:09 PM on November 29, 2012

returning it earns you respect, but it's not like it's a requirement.

In California, by law, if the recipient of the ring breaks off the engagement, s/he has to cough up the ring.

Would it help if you knew I had good reason to break up with her?

There are certain reasons that would make you not paying for the ticket VERY proper and acceptable to my way of thinking. The cost of the ticket might also factor into the judgment.

My opinion, in any event, is that you don't owe her reimbursement. If there is a big imbalance in income, and/or she has found herself on hard times since she purchased it, then the kindly thing to do would be to cover it (as you would if it were a close friend).
posted by nacho fries at 8:11 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

You don't owe her money just because she's hurt and disappointed that the relationship didn't work out. However, if she makes less money than you do, she might have assumed a bigger risk than you did in planning the trip. Paying for part or all of her ticket would really be a nice, caring thing to do, especially if you want to have cordial relations with her in the future.
posted by rhythm and booze at 8:16 PM on November 29, 2012

Whoever is legally obligated to pay for it (ie, whoever's name is on the credit card) pays for it. Don't bring artificial ideas of what's "your responsibility" into it.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 8:20 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thank you, everyone, for your more detailed explanations. I really do appreciate it. To further clarify, she makes way more money than I do so it would hurt me a lot more than her to cover an international flight, hence the reason I am so apprehensive. Again, I appreciate the "decency" angle, but we did both go into this a few months ago under the assumption that the relationship was fine, and only later it turned out not. I also don't think we will continue to have much contact, if any, going into the future.
posted by princeoftheair at 8:30 PM on November 29, 2012

I do not understand why people are calling for you to pay for the ticket. If she bought the non-refundable, non-transferable ticket, that is the risk she assumed. In short, she took a bet that she was almost certainly going to take the trip and therefore decided to pay the cheaper price for the non-refundable ticket. What she (and some other commenters here) want is for her to have the benefit of a refundable, transferable ticket without having to pay for one. Did you induce her to buy the cheaper, non-refundable ticket by saying, "babe, no way we are breaking up. I understand you are risk adverse, but get the cheaper ticket." while knowing that you would dump her? Of course not.

She's not losing the value of the ticket - she has a credit she can use if she pays a change fee, and I have never heard of one over $150. It's not a big deal. But, she's not asking just for that - she wants you to pay for the entire ticket. This is ridiculous. People will try to shame you with talk of chivalry, being gentleman, or *karma*. Ignore them. It sounds like she's demanded a full reimbursement for the entire ticket and you counter with an offer to cover the change fee. I don't think you should pay a dime, but your offer is a perfectly reasonable and gracious counteroffer. She can have that or nothing.

On refresh, I think her demand is beyond the pale given her income relative to yours. She wouldn't happen to have a beloved white cashmere shawl, would she?
posted by Tanizaki at 8:32 PM on November 29, 2012 [8 favorites]

Maybe I don't understand this ticket thing: If you pay her for the ticket, it isn't going to somehow cancel the ticket, right? I mean, if you cover the full cost of the ticket, she is now going to have a ticket that she can use *and* a handful of money, right?

At first I was fully behind the idea of just paying the full price of ticket, since you were the one to break it off *after* the tickets were purchased. But now, unless I'm confused about how this whole ticketing thing works, it sounds like you're being asked to pay for a whole additional trip for her, or a really nice upgrade to the one she already has the ticket for. That definitely doesn't sound fair to me.

I see that she is saying she isn't interested in taking *this* trip. But she has paid some airline for travel, and they are saying she can use it in the coming year. Does it have to be to this specific location, or could she change the travel dates and the travel destination? If she can change the destination, too, then I am unable to think of a reason to even think about OP reimbursing her for the cost of the ticket.

Maybe you could offer her a gift card for the airline the ticket is booked on with a flat amount (say $150) that she can use towards ticket changing fees when she does decide to use the ticket.
posted by Brody's chum at 9:14 PM on November 29, 2012 [6 favorites]

Unless she cheated on you or kicked your puppy or something, the way I see it is that you cancelled the trip, so you pay for the ticket.
But without more details, it's difficult to make the call on this, frankly. Your "good reason" for breaking up is important, in this situation.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:19 PM on November 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

There's a lot of weird moralizing and 1950s sexual politics going on here. Breaking up with someone doesn't put you "in the wrong" and trigger an ethical obligation to make things up. This is a no-fault divorce, so to speak, and you have no more responsibility to pay for the trip than you would if the trip had been cancelled for any other unforeseeable reason (death in the family, broken leg, etc). Nor do you have any obligation to be "chivalrous" or "do the gentlemanly thing" -- that's paternalistic and sort of anti-feminist, assuming the woman is some wilting flower that couldn't possibly survive without your largesse. She makes more than you and is more than capable of paying the transfer fees (or eating the loss).
posted by dontjumplarry at 9:32 PM on November 29, 2012 [13 favorites]

I'm confused... She bought two tickets and is asking you to pay for both? Or she bought two tickets and is asking you to pay your "half" I.e. your fare?

I think you're obliged to pay your cancelled travel costs, AND HER CHANGE FEES (my airline charged $75 on a $190 ticket last year but paying her whole costs is definitely more manners than obligation UNLESS you originally offered to fund the trip, in which case it's all on you.

I don't think it matters who will feel the financial hardship more, or who choose the destination, or why you broke up - the only part that matters is that you cancelled your travel plans with her when you broke up with her.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 9:46 PM on November 29, 2012

I broke up with a girlfriend after buying plane tickets. I paid for both. It took all my restraint not to cancel the tickets and let her go on her merry way. In hindsight, I did the right thing even though it sucked at the time. I mean really, really sucked because it was a nasty business, that break up. In the end it wasn't that big of deal in the grand scheme of things. Life goes on.
posted by woodjockey at 9:52 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

it's not anti-feminist to suggest that the person who cancelled the trip help make the other person whole. this has nothing to do with the genders. her making more gives me pause, but without more details of when the trip was planned and what led to the break up, the overwhelming advice of this thread still stands. it appears you aren't concerned with that since you're only marking answers as best that already agree with you.
posted by nadawi at 9:56 PM on November 29, 2012 [16 favorites]

I would be pretty pissed if I'd made plans in good faith to take an international trip with my boyfriend, and then he dumped me just a few months later. Especially a Christmas holiday. Reverse the situation, and I'd ABSOLUTELY cover the cost of switching tickets. I caused the change, I pay the change fee. Sure, *technically* I wouldn't have to, but it'd be a dick move to force my ex to incur additional charges. Unless you're destitute, don't go the Larry David route on this one.

Paying the whole ticket, however, is unnecessary.
posted by jessca84 at 10:17 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

It doesn't actually seem like the OP cancelled the trip - the post sounded like he was willing to go anyway. Plus, she could presumably still go to whatever place and not stay with him. Or she could use her airline credit to go somewhere else.

He ended a relationship, which was absolutely his right - the trip was not his fault.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:21 PM on November 29, 2012

Since a few people asked, we each bought our own ticket three months ago and broke up a month ago. We haven't discussed the reimbursement or rescheduling options yet, but will have to soon. I am going on the trip regardless. She still has the option to reschedule whether I pay her or not. If she cancels or reschedules, there would be nothing I could do.

I don't want to go into the details of the breakup, but obviously I feel it was completely valid, though you may not believe it and want to give her the benefit of the doubt.

I liked the above comments since they were the most objective regardless of feelings, decency, or karma (which I personally don't believe in). The relationship is over and there's really nothing to salvage by being nice, so I would rather do what's rational. I'll offer to pay the rescheduling fee, but I think that's as far as I should go.
posted by princeoftheair at 10:22 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you take 'rational' to mean 'utility-maximizing', it can be perfectly rational to pay it back if you gain some utility from being decent and nice. Most of us would. It's your prerogative to ignore the consensus if you like, but don't think you're on the objective high ground -- there is no such place in a question of ethics -- and don't be surprised if your ex is not pleased with you.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:03 PM on November 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

She bought her ticket and you bought yours.

Too bad the ticket's not transferable.

The only question you really need to ask is the one that only you can answer. If it's just about the money, then there's no question about it--don't buy her ticket; let her eat the loss.

Unfortunately other things are involved, and it's a little more complicated than money. The rational thing? You should be so lucky. She can take her rice-cooker home with her, or the bathroom set she bought for the apartment. I'm not sure what you meant about salvaging something by being nice. I know what I want to tell you, but the words keep slipping into spittle and sputter, and I forget that I was once young and my version of self-reflection was to check the mirror to see if my beard was properly trimmed. You seem to actually care about this issue--this is why it has struck such a resonant note with me, that, and I can see myself quite a few years ago in a similar struggle, needing only a tiny bit more perspective to get a clearer idea of the ethical plot bones at play. I didn't want to be the bad guy, and I also didn't want to be the guy standing on the platform when the Chump Train pulled in. Maybe other more mundane issues--money--caused me to pause in mid-sentence while dispensing what I thought of as my typically reflexive generousity.

Maybe if you just pay her for the useless ticket, you can pin it up on your bulletin board, and a few months down the road the term epiphany will take on a new meaning.

Good luck.
posted by mule98J at 11:07 PM on November 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

To break it down, you:

1) Agreed to go on the trip with her.
2) Effectively cancelled a couples trip (romantic holiday getaway).
3) Already agreed to reimburse her.

The combination of these three reasons is what would lead me to say that the polite thing to do (regardless of gender or income) would be to make good on what you said you would do, and make up for what you said you would do but now won't be doing.

I liked the above comments since they were the most objective regardless of feelings, decency, or karma (which I personally don't believe in).

Not to be crass, but this really is a question that deals specifically with feelings and decency, as most relationship/breakup questions do. To ignore or disregard such factors would be equivalent to treating it like a business deal gone wrong, which doesn't seem to be the situation here (though it's fully up to you how stern you want to be).
posted by Shouraku at 11:10 PM on November 29, 2012 [9 favorites]

I liked the above comments since they were the most objective regardless of feelings, decency, or karma (which I personally don't believe in). The relationship is over and there's really nothing to salvage by being nice, so I would rather do what's rational.

You are a bajillion times within your rights to break up with this woman, princeoftheair. And in the context of this question, the details of -- or reason for -- the breakup is none of our business unless she did something hella hurtful.

But that said, it's a little chilly in here. Feelings and decency aren't things to be taken into consideration only when people are useful to us. Don't be a sucker, but also don't be a robot.
posted by jessca84 at 11:28 PM on November 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

You already agreed to pay her back. Sooooooooo to me all this "most objective" stuff is you rationalizing not doing something you already said you'd do.

That's not only not objective, it's kind of immature.
posted by spunweb at 12:12 AM on November 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

You're in the right here. You can't pay her back for the ticket because the ticket is non-transferable. If you pay her in full, you're basically giving her a free trip to anywhere. That seems like an overly gracious parting gift.

If I were in her shoes I'd be pissed, but not so stupid as to pass up the chance to go on an adventure I'd already paid for. Paying her under the asumption she would cancel the trip sounds like an invitation to chump-town.
posted by rouftop at 1:24 AM on November 30, 2012

Given that she has an asset with value (a pre-paid airline ticket that can be applied to another trip in the next year) I don't think you owe her anything. And paying the full value for the ticket so that she can take a trip on mostly your dime later seems like an awful nice gift for somebody you just dumped. I assume the cost of this ticket did not force her to live on Ramen noodles for 6 weeks.

If you feel like you need to offer something, offer to pay half on the ticket for her inconvenience. However, IMHO, you are doing it to be a nice guy, not because you owe her anything.
posted by COD at 5:28 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

it's not anti-feminist to suggest that the person who cancelled the trip help make the other person whole.

IAAL. "Making people whole" is the business I do all day. OP's paying money to the ex-GF does not "make her whole".

In the instance of the demand for the entire ticket price, it does not make her whole but gives her a windfall in that not only does she have a credit for air travel, but she also gets a wad of cash for the full value of the ticket? If the trip had taken place as place, she would not have received that wad of cash. Therefore, giving her the value of the whole ticket does not "make her whole" because it puts her in a better position than she would have been had everything gone as planned.

The only reasonable argument about "making her whole" could be for paying her change fee because that is the only expense she will conceivably incur as a result of the breakup, but it is doubtful that "makes her whole" either. If we are going to frame this in terms of making people whole, the OP would have a setoff in the amount of every other expense that ex-GF would have incurred had the trip actually taken place. For example, I bet she would have spent money on transportation, food, and lodging while abroad during this trip. That is money the OP has saved her because of the breakup. The change fee would at most be $150 to $200, far less than what the ex-GF also would have spent on the trip. She is financially better off because the trip was cancelled. So, while you might make the argument that OP is liable to ex-GF, he has caused her no damages and therefore owes her no damages.

OP bought his ticket and ex-GF bought hers. She, for whatever reason that is not OP's fault, didn't choose to pay the higher price for a refundable ticket. If we are going to be palying "make her whole", there is also something called "assumption of risk". She assumed a risk that no travel insurance company would insure. Why is OP now her insurer with zero deductible? "Chivalry" is not a good answer to that question.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:19 AM on November 30, 2012 [7 favorites]

Since you want to know our views, well, you already agreed to pay her back for it. Now you don't want to and you're explicitly disregarding the opinions here which involve things like "feelings" and "decency." I'm sure your intentions are good or you wouldn't be asking here, but that is a rotten way to approach this.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:19 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hi! I'm a lady and have been in your ex-girlfriend's situation - I was broken up with right before a romantic trip where I had paid for the plane ticket, but I was still on good terms with my ex. (Two weeks before, in fact)

He made less than me, and felt terrible, and actually offered to pay me for the ticket - but I refused, because it would have been a shitty thing for me to do to take his money. It also would have been a shitty thing for me to demand it if he hadn't offered.

Assumption of risk. You risk it every time you buy a plane ticket for any vacation. What if it's rained out, or a problem for some other reason?

Maybe, maybe, you could offer to be the bigger man and pay for her change fees, but doing that is being princely and totally not required.
posted by corb at 6:34 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I were in the position of the GF here, I would not ask my ex to pay for the ticket. It is still usable for a year, so she can use it for something else.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:30 AM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

For some folks having a single international or otherwise plane ticket would be worthless, because some folks are just made anxious by the idea of taking a vacation by themselves, and some folks may not have a ready queue of friends with which to take a vacation.
posted by TheRedArmy at 9:44 AM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm surprised by the number of people suggesting that you pay her for the ticket. Being dumped sucks, and a considerate person will try to be understanding and gracious when ending a relationship. But I don't think the dumper is liable for the consequences of all emotional or financial decisions made with the expectation that you would be together.

I can understand why she's asking for the money: I'd also rather have cash than airline credit because I can use the cash to buy anything, including an airline ticket if I want one later. But if you reimburse her she will have both cash and an airline ticket.

I think the gracious and understanding thing to do is offer to pay her change fee if she decides to take another trip. I don't really think it's your problem if she doesn't have anywhere else she wants to go, or doesn't have friends that want to go with her and doesn't want to travel alone. It's your money and if you want to reimburse her to keep the peace you should feel free to do so, but I don't think you're in any way obligated to give her hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars, for something she can still use.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 10:59 AM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Where is everyone getting that OP agreed to pay for the ticket? "

She asked me to pay her for the unused ticket, which I was ok with at first, but..."

"Ok with" is not synonymous with "agreed to."

Some of you are also seeing much more of a "well, we have spoken, and if you want to go against the consensus that's fine, buuuuuuut....." Again, my reading is different.

Even if OP agreed to pay for the ticket, I think it's reasonable to say "Listen, it turns out this isn't transferable; I didn't know that before." I think it's reasonable to pay the change fee and be done with it.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:23 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I liked the above comments since they were the most objective regardless of feelings, decency, or karma

If you're not concerned with decency, why are you even asking here?
posted by valeries at 11:34 AM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

"well, we have spoken, and if you want to go against the consensus that's fine, buuuuuuut....."

Yes, I find that a bit nettlesome as well.

About a third of the responses thus far are NOT of the "be a mensch and suck up the ticket cost" point-of-view, so it's by no means a resounding consensus.

What I think makes this question interesting is that it can be argued multiple ways, and it's that process that will hopefully clarify the OP's thinking on the matter, and allow him to think through what "decency" means to him.

The update about income disparity tilts me even more firmly toward the "don't pay" side, but it's not a simple equation -- I really would want to take a higher-level view of my and my former-partner's conduct over the course of the relationship, and how I think I might feel about myself a year from now, when the emotional dust has settled. Will it take a chunk out of my future self-worth, or enhance it, or be neutral? That sort of thing.
posted by nacho fries at 12:22 PM on November 30, 2012

I do not think you owe her reimbursement for the ticket at all. Like, at all. Especially since you make far less money than her.

She still has a travel credit, which is what she paid for. Offering to pay for the difference to change the trip would be the thoughtful response, not giving her extra money (plus her credit) for no discernible reason.

If I were the broken-up-with, I would not ask for reimbursement if I knew I could still use the travel credit. I think it's immature of her to expect this from you, actually.

Why is OP now her insurer with zero deductible? "Chivalry" is not a good answer to that question.

Yeah. I've been the broken-up-with in this situation, and I absolutely did not ask for reimbursement, because frankly, that is a bizarre response. Even if someone had offered I would have blanched at the idea. (So the moral judgments going on in this thread can go both ways!)

For some reason when I read your question I thought you were a woman, if an answer that doesn't factor in gender difference is helpful.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:05 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Did you invite her on the trip? If so, the decent thing to do would be to help out in some way by agreeing to pay the change fee. I don't think it matters who makes more money- if you invite someone on a trip they otherwise wouldn't have gone on, and then break up with them, paying the change fee means they aren't paying extra money for you dumping them.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:08 PM on November 30, 2012

*meant to say that when it happened to me, I couldn't transfer the credit (just had to eat the cost) and I still didn't assumed I'd be "paid back" by anyone, so the fact that she still has it and wants to be paid back is weird to me
posted by stoneandstar at 8:49 PM on November 30, 2012

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